Face Transplants Face Reality
Experts are wary as some surgeons seek to attempt a face transplant -- a procedure that probably isn't what you think it is.
Face Transplants: Serious Surgery for Serious Situations continued...
But Barker may have opened a can of worms with statements that the technique
might be appropriate for burn victims. Many burn victims have their entire
faces destroyed. Skin grafts save their lives. But even multiple operations
leave them with such a distorted appearance that many patients feel unable to
"There are burn patients that have lost all the skin on their
faces," Papel says. "But at this point, they are probably better off
with skin grafts."
Pearlman agrees that face transplants should be reserved only for people
with fatal conditions.
"The first candidate should be one of those patients with no other
alternatives," he says. "Especially those with cranial facial cancer or
severe craniofacial deformity where there is no other surgical procedure that
could cure them."
Pearlman says that he and others in the American Academy of Facial, Plastic,
and Reconstructive Surgery are developing guidelines for experimental face
For the time being, the only guidelines are those of the Royal College of
"Until there is further research and the prospect of better control of
these complications, it would be unwise to proceed with human facial
transplantation," they state. "This conclusion is not adverse to facial
transplantation. Indeed, it acknowledges the need to recognize it as a possible
future treatment. It simply means that the work should take a much more
incremental approach than some of the current hype surrounding it has