A Glimpse at the Future of Hand and Face Transplants

Photo of future of face hand transplants LocateADocWhen it comes to hand and face transplants, much is still unknown. The first facial procedure was completed just over five years ago, and since then just seven have been performed in three U.S. hospitals. Twenty patients have undergone hand transplants. Public interest is slowly increasing, though there is a tremendous amount of groundwork to be completed before these two procedures will be considered a widespread solution.

Establishing a national database of these patients with detailed records about their health history before and after surgery is most certainly a priority. Defining success after going through one of these types of transplants is tricky, since they are not life-saving processes. In the case of traditional organ transplants, for example, the life of the organ within the recipient is a trackable way to determine success. In the case of a face or hand, medical professionals may monitor things like appearance, acceptance by the body, and the ability to hold a pen and write.

Right now, insurance agencies won't pay for these types of procedures. Due to the lack of knowledge about them, they're considered experimental. Likewise, organ collection agencies are not prepared to support the practice. They aren't trained in collecting and transporting these body parts, and their staff don't know how to offer this as an option to donors and their families.

Another component that will need to be addressed in the coming years is establishing guidelines for who should go to the top of the waiting list for faces and hands. Some argue that children should receive priority because their nerves regenerate faster, which means they're more likely to have positive outcomes. Others contend that those with the most severe disfigurements or who were hurt while on active duty should be considered priority patients.

This area of transplant surgery will most certainly expand in the coming years. As more surgeons become involved in the discussion and in the practice, the number of successful procedures and proven results will continue to grow.

If you have further questions relating transplants, use our Ask A Doc feature to have your question answered by someone in our network of doctors and specialists.

Further Reading

  • Reducing the signs of aging with facial treatments such as microdermabrasion and dermal fillers can provide temporary results, but innovative procedures such as Fraxel C02 Laser Treatment show more promise for those who want to get rid of fine lines and wrinkles for the long-term.

  • LocateADoc.com has recently released a fantastic plastic surgery cost infographic for both men and women. Why do people shell out so much money for plastic surgery? Well the answer obviously is to look better and feel wonderful about themselves. In addition, as I have written before, it is becoming the rising trend for job seekers as the job market becomes more and more competitive.

  • Plastic surgery is many a celebrity’s best-kept secret to looking young and youthful, but even younger stars – especially those in their 30’s – aren’t afraid to get a little nip and tuck to be beautiful. Breast implants are still one of the most popular types of plastic surgery among the Hollywood crowds, and many celebrities aren’t afraid to admit that they’ve had the coveted boob job. Celebrities including Kourtney Kardashian, Victoria Beckham, and Tori Spelling are just a few stars that have had breast implants and haven’t been afraid to show them off by wearing plunging necklines and tops that accentuate their chest.