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The Face Transplantation Update: 2016

Sosin, Michael, M.D.; Rodriguez, Eduardo D., M.D., D.D.S.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: June 2016 - Volume 137 - Issue 6 - p 1841-1850
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000002149
Reconstructive: Head and Neck: Original Articles
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Background: Ten years after the first face transplantation, the available data in peer-reviewed literature, various media outlets, and recent specialty meetings and courses are conflicting and inconsistently reported. The purpose of this study was to consolidate the available data by means of multiple sources to reflect an accurate and current state of facial vascularized composite allotransplantation as of December of 2015.

Methods: Using applied search terms pertaining to face transplantation, a systematic PubMed search, Google search, and review of Plastic Surgery Education Network News Connection e-mailed newsletters were performed, and data presented at three meetings (i.e., the most recent American Society of Reconstructive Transplantation biennial meeting, the American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery annual meeting, and the biennial AO North America State of the Art: Face Reconstruction and Transplantation course) were consolidated to capture the most contemporary and accurate data in face transplantation.

Results: A total of 37 face transplants have been performed (20 partial and 17 full face) from 2005 to December of 2015. A discrepancy between actual transplantations performed and peer-reviewed reports exists at multiple time points, with a propensity for underreporting. Ten cases were described through media outlets but were not reported by the surgical teams in peer-reviewed literature. Two clinical cases were not described in peer-reviewed literature or media. There have been a total of five deaths, and posttransplant malignancy and revision surgery have been underreported.

Conclusions: This serves as the most contemporary and all-inclusive face transplantation review. There is a critical need for timely reporting and outcome transparency in the reconstructive transplant community.


New York, N.Y.

From the Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery, New York University Langone Medical Center.

Received for publication July 26, 2015; accepted December 22, 2015.

Disclosure:No funding was provided for the preparation of this article. The authors do not have any conflicts of interest to disclose.

A “Hot Topic Video” by Editor-in-Chief Rod J. Rohrich, M.D., accompanies this article. Go to and click on “Plastic Surgery Hot Topics” in the “Videos” tab to watch. On the iPad, tap on the Hot Topics icon.

Eduardo D. Rodriguez, M.D., D.D.S., Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery, New York University Langone Medical Center, 305 East 33rd Street, New York, N.Y. 10016,

Copyright © 2016 by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons