New research has shown that blood vessels reorganize themselves just one year after a full face transplant procedure. Doctors usually call the process “neovascularization.” It aids the tissue’s survival by improving blood flow. However, it is the first time this has been detected in full face transplants.
During face transplant surgery, the patient’s major arteries and veins are connected to those in the donor face. This provides healthy circulation to the recipients new face, which helps ensure the body does not reject the foreign tissue.
Doctors thought that healthy blood flow transpired, due to a healthy artery and vein connection made during the surgery. However, recent analysis studying three facial transplant patients, showed that in fact blood vessels restructure themselves, which entails the blood vessels connecting transplanted skin, to the patient’s facial tissue.
After just one year, the findings demonstrated that all three patients had excellent blood flow in the facial tissue. This is usually only common with other transplants, and is needed to ensure sufficient blood flow to the donor tissue.
This new evidence will help advancement for full facial transplants greatly. Doctors have been trying to investigate into bodily procedures, that help guide blood into transplanted tissue for many years, in order to help them fully understand the surgery.
Researchers have stated that this new information has brought to light a “consistent, extensive vascular reorganization.” This restructuring of blood vessels, involves larger vessels being joined at the time of surgery.
There have been less than 30 full face transplants since 2005. This new evidence will be presented at the radiological society of North America’s annual meeting in Chicago, and will facilitate progression.
Face transplants thus far have been extremely experimental. Dr. Branko Bojovich, stated that the team’s new findings will be “very reassuring,” for surgeons. It will hopefully make life-long futures for patients more tangible, and could eventually shorten the operating time of future transplants.
Dallas Wiens was the first man in the United States to go ahead with a full face transplant procedure. He recently referred to his life as a miracle, showing just how phenomenal transplants are, and how they can re-establish a patient’s life.
Wiens was in a painting accident in 2008 at his church. His head hit a high-voltage wire and his face was completely burned off. With new surgery, he no longer has to live without facial features, and just a two inch slit for a mouth. His face has been completely restructured, with just some visible scarring left, and he is on his way towards a full recovery.
The video below shows a woman named Connie Culp, and her experiences after a face transplant. She was shot in the face by her husband in a failed murder-suicide attempt. She was left at 40 years old with no jaw, nose or nerve endings.
With new knowledge about blood vessels restructuring themselves after a full face transplant, future patients like Dallas Wiens, and Connie Culp, can continue on their way towards a brighter and happier future.
By Melissa McDonald