Special Presentation To Highlight Human Face Transplant

ASAPS Meeting Hosts First Surgeon in U.S. Approved to Execute Full Transplant Procedure

ORLANDO, FL (April 21, 2006) — The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) announced today a special lecture, “In Preparation for Facial Transplantation,” by Dr. Maria Siemionow, Director of Plastic Surgery Research & Head, Microsurgery Training Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. The lecture will take place at the Aesthetic Society’s Annual Meeting, April 21-25 in Orlando, FL and will spotlight the development of facial transplant in the United States. Dr. Siemionow’s lecture will outline her 20 years of experimental work on composite tissue allografts (CTAs) and tolerance inducing strategies. Dr. Siemionow and her colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic are preparing for clinical studies of a full human face transplantation.

“We are looking at severely disfigured patients who have exhausted all possible conventional reconstructive options,” said Dr. Siemionow. “The first patient would have to be someone who is not having a life otherwise, but is also psychologically stable enough to undergo the procedure.”

The first and only partial face transplant took place in France in November of 2005 and attracted international attention from the public and scientific communities. Dr. Siemionow has approval to perform a full transplant. Today, the greatest misunderstanding about human face transplant is the perception of the procedure as an identity or face-swap. The procedure, if successful, will create a new face for a person with little or no facial structure. Underlying bone structure, eyes and the mannerisms that help shape a person’s identity will be preserved. Candidates for the procedure must meet thorough psychiatric and psychological criteria.

“It is important to note that we are not talking about identity transfer or a Hollywood-style presentation of the process,” said Dr. Siemionow. “This is a serious medical procedure for a very select group of patients who are in need, and we are trying to bring them back into society. We know from forensic medicine and from studies we have done in cadavers that the patients’ basic structure remains—their eyes, their voice, their gestures, the way they walk, and the way they move continue to identify them.”

A primary focus of Dr. Siemionow’s work has been the induction of tolerance in CTAs. CTAs are a combination of skin, subcutaneous tissue, neurovascular tissue, and mesenchymal tissue such as bone, muscle, fascia and cartilage. Although ‘nonvital to life,’ these tissues are structurally, functionally and aesthetically important to the functional restoration of musculoskeletal defects.

“There has been much controversy and confusion surrounding this procedure. We believe it is an another step in the right direction that plastic surgeons can now use our knowledge and skills to advance facial transplant to improve quality of life for those with severe facial disfiguration,” said Mark Jewell, MD, President of ASAPS.

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Special Presentation on Face Transplantation: Maria Siemionow, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc.


Saturday, April 22, at 9:45am

Presenter is available for interviews.

Please contact the ASAPS communications staff.

About ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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