Shanghai doctors announced the success of a novel technology that uses people's own skin via stem cells to grow a new face for seriously disfigured patients.
It's an alternative to the surgery used in the West in which doctors transplant the face from a dead body to a patient.
Facial tissue developed with the new technology is more readily accepted physically and psychologically by patients and has no ethical issues, doctors from Shanghai No. 9 People's Hospital said yesterday.
Since adopting the new technology, doctors have used it on more than 60 patients, including seven who needed their whole face replaced or major facial changes.
Of the seven, six were a success, while one case failed as skin on part of the face died, doctors said.
Patients include women disfigured by having sulfuric acid splashed in their faces, people who lost their nose during a fight and a person whose face was seriously burned in a fire.
Under the technology, doctors remove certain blood vessels from the patient's leg to build a small vessel net and transplant it into a place on the body to grow the new face, usually on the a patient's upper chest.
Then doctors use a skin dilator to expand the skin like a bulging ball. Later they inject the patient's own stem cells to help the skin grow stronger and stimulate the growth of blood vessels.
Soft bones which are shaped into facial features like a nose and upper jaw bone in line with the patient's own facial skeleton are then transplanted under the new facial skin.
Finally, the new face is transplanted onto the disfigured face. The new face, which is thin and comprised of a whole piece of living skin, will join with the facial muscles, thus giving a patient natural facial expressions and function to the greatest extent possible.
"The whole treatment procedure lasts for six to eight months," said Li Qingfeng, a leader in developing the technology.
Zhang Disheng, one of the founders of plastic surgery in China, said the new technology is a milestone improvement compared with transplanting a dead person's face and can be called the Chinese-style face change.
Source: Shanghai Daily