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New facts about face transplants

Though more than 30 face transplants have been performed, little is known about long-term outcomes. However, a recent study suggests that transplanted faces change based on the recipient’s bone structure and age at an accelerated rate.

The study, headed by Bohdan Pomahac, M.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School tracked three full-face-transplant recipients over 36 months. Notably, Dr. Pomahac led the team that performed the first full-face transplant in the United States.

“We observed a significant reduction of volume of the bone and muscle in patients who received facial allotransplants that is different than what we see with normal facial aging, which primarily affects the fat and skin of the face,” Dr. Pomahac tells Cosmetic Surgery Times. “This observation raises many questions, which we are beginning to explore. Countermeasures to reverse, delay or prevent this issue may improve future outcomes for these patients.

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“In the short term, our results may help to set expectations for future patients,” he adds. “In the long run, we hope to understand why this process is happening, and whether and how we should intervene.”

The American Journal of Transplantation published the study.

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