Cleveland Surgeons Perform 22-hour Face Transplant Operation on Trauma Patient

A diverse medical team of doctors and surgeons at Cleveland Clinic have performed the nation’s first ever 80 percent face transplant.

While personal details on the patient have been withheld, the clinic issued a press release stating that the patient is a female who had previously suffered serious facial trauma. During the procedure, many complex facial components of the patient’s face were restored.  Trained in microsurgery and transplantation techniques, the surgeons integrated facial structures like the nose and lower eyelids, while also replacing complex tissues like nerves, arteries and skin.

Dr. Maria Siemionow, director of Plastic surgery research and team leader for the project has spent her career researching and developing such procedures. She was able to direct professionals from a variety of disciplines. Surgery, transplant, anesthesia, opthamology, dentistry and bioethics are just a few of medical disciplines that played a significant role.

A multifaceted approach of this caliber is probably the only way to achieve such a complex surgical procedure.

Regarding the importance of facial surgery, Siemionow says, “No other aspect of our anatomy is capable of even a fraction of the complexity of motion and emotion allowed by the muscles and tissues of the face.”   She describes her motivation in a recent Wall Street Journal article saying,”Patients with facial disfigurement have very difficult challenges in society. We hope that one day we may be able to help the tens of thousands of patients who are quietly suffering.”