A New Age In Medicine – Face Transplant Procedure
Too often, plastic surgery is maligned for its association with celebrity culture; too often reduced to an exercise in personal vanity that features no illuminating advancement for humankind. But that’s a narrow view that overlooks the progress that was on display earlier this autumn in Montreal, when a physician reconstructed a young man’s face and gave him his life back, in turn.
Plastic surgeon Daniel Borsuk, who’d been part of the team that conducted the world’s first full face transplant in 2012, worked on Alex who’d had his face badly damaged in a bar fight years before.
On October 22, 2015, at Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont in Montreal, Borsuk undertook a reconstruction procedure that left no scars or deformities in its wake. The surgery marked a Canadian breakthrough.
The beating happened nearly five years ago when Alex was 19. He had his cheekbone and lower eye socket crushed. He’d had surgeries in the past, but none had been successful, and some had even worsened the damage, becoming infected and delivering a steady dose of chronic pain.
Dr. Daniel Borsuk
For his part, Borsuk gained international fame in 2012 as the Canadian doctor on the American medical team that gave a new face to Richard Norris, a 37-year-old who had his face horribly disfigured from a gunshot wound. This transplant, which included all facial and anterior neck skin, both jaws and the tongue, represents the most extensive facial transplant to date.
Trained at McGill University and Université de Montréal, Borsuk chose to work without a foreign-object implant or bone graft over concerns that they could become infected. Instead, he replicated a pristine cheek from a piece of bone from the man’s hip, complete with veins and arteries feeding it. He worked with a 3D model of the anticipated results in an operation that lasted eight hours.
The doctor achieved a scar-free outcome by attaching the veins and arteries to the patient’s mouth — the fourth such effort in the world and the first in Canada.
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