Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Font Size

1st U.S. Face Transplant Patient Recovering

Patient Is "Doing Well" and Shows No Sign of Tissue Rejection, Her Doctors Say
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 17, 2008 -- The woman who recently got the first face transplant in the U.S. is "doing well," her doctors at the Cleveland Clinic said at a news conference today.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, had 80% of her face replaced within the last two weeks with facial tissue from a deceased donor. The patient had suffered severe facial trauma several years ago, leaving her blind in one eye and without a nose or upper jaw.

The patient is recovering at the Cleveland Clinic and hasn't shown any signs of tissue rejection, says Maria Siemionow, MD, PhD, director of plastic surgery and head of microsurgery training at the Cleveland Clinic.

The patient hasn't seen her still-swollen face yet, but she has run her hands over it and is "happy" that she now has a nose, jaw, and a "full face," Siemionow says.

About the Face Transplant Patient

The patient's doctors won't say what had caused the patient's facial trauma. She had already tried conventional reconstruction and suffered because of how people treated her.

"She was called names and children were afraid of her," says Siemionow, calling the woman "brave."

Few other details about her have been released, except that she's a U.S. citizen, and that she wanted the operation not only for herself but to pave the way for other people like her. No images of the patient are being released, in keeping with her and her family's wishes.

Few details are available about the donor, except that she's a woman. Donors have to match the patient's gender, race, approximate age, and blood type.

About the Face Transplant Operation

The operation took 22 hours and involved replacing most of the woman's face, except for her upper eyelids, forehead, lower lip, and chin. That meant working with layers of tissue -- skin, muscles, bones, arteries, veins, and nerves.

It took four years to find the right patient and donor, and 20 years of work on techniques leading up to the surgery, Siemionow notes.

What's Next for Face Transplant Patient

The patient will need to take immune-suppressing drugs for the rest of her life to help prevent her body from rejecting the donated tissue.

Today on WebMD

Pictures and symptoms of the red, scaly rash.
woman with dyed dark hair
What it says about your health.
woman with cleaning products
Top causes of the itch that rashes.
atopic dermatitus
Identify and treat common skin problems.
itchy skin
shingles rash on skin
woman with skin tag
Woman washing face
woman washing her hair in sink
close up of womans bare neck
woman with face cream