First Full Face Transplant in the US: Years in the Making

Posted on May 31st, 2011 by Dr. William Franckle

The first successful full face transplant in the United States was an incredibly important step for reconstructive surgery in this country. Performed on Dallas Wiens, a young construction worker critically burned in a power line accident, underwent this procedure to restore his nose, skin, lips, facial muscles and nerves from an unidentified donor at a Boston hospital. Since 2005, there have been 6 partial face transplants and 3 full facial transplants around the world, with Mr. Wiens being the most recent.

What has received little attention during this event is the careful preparation that was required in order to make this a reality. The techniques involved are actually not new. Microvascular and nerve surgery procedures are routinely used by plastic surgeons nearly everyday. The fact that the grafted tissue was provided by an unrelated deceased donor (not the patient’s own tissues) thus requiring lifelong anti-rejection drugs also was not new, as it is done in organ transplant every day. The trouble encountered when this procedure was first contemplated was mostly ethical. Is it acceptable to perform a face transplant? The face, it was argued, was not essential for life in the same sense as a heart, liver or kidney. Wouldn’t these patients be risking their lives for something that came down to simple human vanity?

These questions were not difficult to answer by any plastic surgeon that has treated these poor souls who suffered a catastrophic loss of the facial tissues. Although these tissues together form our external appearance and provide our unique social identities, they also perform vital functions such as protection of our eyesight, oral competence, and airway protection. It is difficult to understand the impact on someone’s life when all of these functions are lost. Despite our best reconstructive efforts, these massive defects are not satisfactorily repaired since the specialized tissues needed do not exist on other parts of the body. The only options for these people involve looking to human donors for these special tissues.

It is not hard to imagine the reluctance of the general public to a procedure of this type. There was real concern that the pool of organ donors may shrink, as someone may be afraid that they would be signing up for something more personal than donating just an organ after death. This could impact our already short supply of needed organ donations. Certainly an individual may take pause at the prospect of someone else living with their face. Would the recipient look like the donor? Images of Hollywood movies such as “Face/off” come to mind. As our appearance is due to many more factors than just the soft tissues of our faces, at this point it seems likely that there is little to no chance of the recipient looking like the donor.

It was very generous of Mr. Wiens to share his experience with the world. We were all able to see his result and hear the story in his own words. Although the face transplant procedure is still in its early stages and still in many ways experimental, the experiences of individual patients such as Mr. Wiens are essential in evaluating its impact on the treatment of the catastrophic loss of the face and its functions.

More information:

MSNBC: “Texas man gets first full face transplant in US
BBC News: First Full Face Transplant in Spain

Dr Franckle

Meet Dr. William Franckle Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

We know that you have many options when choosing a plastic surgeon. Dr. Franckle and his staff are dedicated to providing you with a caring and professional surgical experience. Time and time again our patients credit Dr. Franckle’s expertise and the kindness of our staff as the reason for choosing our practice. Dr. Franckle is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ASPS), the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties to certify surgeons in the practice of plastic surgery. Attention to detail, meticulous skill, and an artistic eye make Dr. Franckle an expert in such procedures as rhinoplasty (nose job), breast augmentation (breast implants), abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), facelift, and non-surgical treatments (Botox and injectable fillers).

Dr. William Franckle Testimonials

👃🏻Looking for the stunning results that this Rhinoplasty patient received? Look no further! ⁠

👃🏻For more results check out the before and after gallery through the link in our bio, and while you’re there don’t forget to book your appointment! ⁠


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Our doctors will not talk you into a procedure that you do not want or are not ready for. It is vital to get all your questions and concerns on the table. You’ll share your medical history, describe any medications you’re taking, and discuss your objectives and expectations with the surgeon while he evaluates the region of your body you want to be treated.

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Call us to book your consultation today! 💌⁠



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Body contouring procedures can help address a combination of upper and lower body areas based on each patients’ aesthetic goals. William Franckle, MD, FACS can help you find your inner confidence with a custom body contouring solution. Learn more about common procedures. overall health goals, and outcome expectations.⁠

Call us to schedule your consultation today!⁠


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Gynecomastia is the medical term for enlarged breasts in men. Approximately 15 million males in the United States experience gynecomastia at any given time. It can be found in either one breast or both, and it can sometimes cause a noticeable imbalance in the size of the breasts. Though it is often a painless condition, men who suffer from it may experience feelings of embarrassment or shyness.⁠


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Body after Baby🤱🏼❗️⁠

Childbirth is a truly miraculous event, and you shouldn’t have to settle for a physique you find unsatisfying. With the Mommy Makeover, South Jersey and surrounding area moms can fight the physical effects of motherhood and shift their focus to the more magical elements of parenthood. ⁠

As with any invasive procedure, it is absolutely paramount that the patient be otherwise healthy before undergoing surgery. Dr. Franckle also advises that patients stop smoking prior to surgery to promote proper healing and recovery. It is also necessary to allow your body ample time to heal after childbirth before undergoing major surgery.⁠


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❗️FALSE❗️⁠


Fact: A facelift can reposition tissue and address the neck area in ways fillers cannot. However, fillers are excellent for adding lost facial volume and giving a boost to your skin. They’re a great short-term, nonsurgical way to fight the signs of aging. If you’re unsure about committing to a facelift, give facial fillers a try.⁠


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❗️Rhinoplasty results 👃🏻⁠


To see additional photos of our rhinoplasty patients, please schedule your personal consultation at the link in our bio.⁠



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William Franckle, MD, FACS offers advanced plastic surgery and non-surgical cosmetic treatments in New Jersey. All consultations and MedSpa services, including injectables, are held privately at our Voorhees clinic. Surgical procedures are performed at the Virtua Center for Surgery in Sewell under the care of board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Franckle.

Contact our team today to learn more about our services and find the right one for you.

William Franckle, MD., FACS

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