How 3D technology is revolutionizing face transplants


From modeling to printing, it’s all about seeing inside someone’s head.

Face transplants are an ideal setting to fuse medicine with the growing world of 3D printing and imaging. The left image is a rendering of what face transplant recipient Cameron Underwood’s face looked like before his surgery; the right is a planned rendering based on the donor’s face.

Cameron Underwood received a new face on January 6, 2018. By the time his surgery ended, everything below Underwood’s eye sockets had been replaced with the face of organ donor William Fisher.

A face transplant is exactly what it sounds like—replacing the disfigured face of one person with the whole, undamaged face of a very recently deceased person. Eduardo Rodriguez, plastic surgeon and face transplant specialist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York who performed surgery on Underwood, insists this surgery is a way to give these patients “a second chance at life.” Without a new face, patients like Underwood have great difficulty speaking, swallowing, eating, expressing themselves, as well as all the other things we do with our faces that we never think twice about.

A physician in France performed the first successful face transplant surgery in 2005. Since then, only 40 other such surgeries have been done around the world. Rodriguez has performed three of those surgeries, including Underwood’s.

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World’s most extensive full-face transplant in medical history

face transplant

The most extensive face transplant ever gives a man a new jaw, teeth, tongue, muscle, tissue, bone and skin.

Thirty seven year old Richard Lee Norris from Virginia was so severely disfigured by a 1997 gun accident, he has received the most extensive full-face transplant in medical history, according to University of Maryland Medical Center surgeons.

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Spanish Face Transplant Patient Thanks Doctors

face 568 rafael

‘Rafael’ happy with face transplant progress.

A 34-year-old Spanish face transplant patient yesterday appeared before the press with his new face, saying he was ‘happy’ and thanking his donor and medical team.

The man, whose name was given as Rafael, underwent a 30-hour operation on January 25 and 26 at Seville’s Virgen del Rocio hospital. More than 100 medical professionals participated directly or indirectly in the operation.