Guiding principles for facial transplantation unveiled

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery (ASRM) today unveiled a landmark joint document, Facial Transplantation-ASPS/ASRM Guiding Principles, to assist plastic surgeons considering participation in facial transplantation procedures.

"This is truly a remarkable and historic time in plastic surgery," said Bruce Cunningham, MD and ASPS president. "The ability to help restore some hope to a person who suffers from severe facial disfigurement for an improved quality of life is a wonderful thing. Still, there are many unanswered questions regarding this challenge and many important considerations for all involved."

The document considers the issue of facial transplantation by examining various subjects including, immunosuppression, transplant rejection, technical issues and psychological aspects (both those facing all transplant patients and those unique to facial transplant patients).

"As plastic surgeons we fully recognize the revolutionary prospects of facial transplantation," said William C. Pederson, MD and president of ASRM. "We just need to make sure that we approach this challenge having reflected on all the possibilities for both the patient and the surgical team."

The document concludes with 10 Guiding Principles that a surgeon should consider before undertaking facial transplantation for a patient. The principles address such issues as: appropriate patient selection; medical facility selection; patient informed consent; patient psychological evaluation; proper institutional oversight; and the ethics of the procedure.

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The American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery promotes, encourages, fosters, and advances the art and science of reconstructive microneurovascular surgery. The ASRM, with more than 470 members, exists as a forum for teaching, research and free discussion of reconstructive microsurgical methods and principles among the members.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. With more than 6,000 members, the society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.


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