NYU Surgeons Just Transplanted an Entire Face – and They're Getting Better at It

If you thought 1997’s Face/Off was mostly sci-fi, we have some news for you: a team of surgeons at NYU Langone recently announced that they have completed a full face transplant on a 26-year-old man named Cameron Underwood, and that he has successfully recovered from the procedure. All told, the surgery involved the work of over 100 medical professionals and took 25 hours to finish.

Underwood’s original face was heavily damaged after a self-inflicted gunshot wound, which was accidental. After locating a donor (whose identity has remained confidential) and using 3-D modeling and printing to plan the transplant, the surgeons at NYU were able to complete the surgery on January 6th, 2018. According to Medical News Today: “The surgeons used the entire middle and lower parts of the donor’s face and skull to complete the transplant. In all, they replaced and reconstructed the patient’s upper and lower jaws, 32 teeth and gums, the roof and floor of the mouth, the lower eyelids and cheeks, and the nose and part of the nasal passage.”

You can see the details of the transplant in the video below.

Believe it or not, Underwood’s 25-hour surgery length, associated hospital stay (37 days), and rehabilitation time (7 days) show a marked improvement from the last face transplant performed by NYU, whose surgery, hospital stay, and rehab lasted 36 hours, 62 days, and 13 days, respectively.

The new technology used in this procedure, along with improved transplant techniques, are a big step forward according to Bruce Gelb, one of the transplant surgeons involved. “Our team has established a successful, novel, patient-donor matching protocol and immune suppression regimen that we believe provides the best outcomes for our patients because the risk of rejection and toxicity is greatly minimized,” he said.