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Last Updated: Monday, 3 July 2006, 23:14 GMT 00:14 UK
Face transplant deemed a success
Isabelle Dinoire (AP)
Mrs Dinoire lost her nose, lips and chin in the dog attack

The world's first face transplant has been deemed a success by the surgeons who carried out the operation.

The Lancet reports that the patient's recovery of sensation four months after the surgery had been "excellent" and her psychological progress was good.

Scientists have hailed the work as a "milestone", but have said an immune attack could have devastating effects.

Isabelle Dinoire, 38, from France, received the transplant in Amiens on 27 November after being mauled by her dog.

A team of surgeons, led by Bernard Devauchelle, from Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Amiens, made history by transplanting tissues, muscles, arteries and veins, taken from a brain-dead donor, onto Mrs Dinoire's lower face.

The scientists report that one week after the operation, Mrs Dinoire was able to eat and drink almost normally, and her speech had improved quickly. They said the return of sensation to her face was "excellent", although she would need more physiotherapy to restore movement around her lips.

They said the patient did experience signs of mild rejection of her new tissue, but this had been successfully suppressed with drugs.

Professor Devauchelle said: "The four-month outcome demonstrates the feasibility of this procedure.

Failure of the regimen chosen could prove devastating, with the possible loss of the transplanted face at any time
Patrick Warnke

"The functional result will be assessed in the future, but this graft can already be deemed successful with respect to appearance, sensitivity, and acceptance by the patient."

In an accompanying article, Patrick Warnke, from the University of Kiel, Germany, called the operation "a new milestone", but said the consequences would be grave should the patient's body reject the new tissue.

He said: "Failure of the regimen chosen could prove devastating, with the possible loss of the transplanted face at any time."

He added that Mrs Dinoire would require lifelong suppression of her immune system to prevent rejection.

Since the operation, a team in China has carried out a transplant, and an ethics team at the Royal Free Hospital is considering an application by Professor Peter Butler to carry out similar work.

1 Triangle of skin and muscle tissue is cut away from donor's face
2 Blood vessels and nerves from face section are connected to recipient using microvascular surgery

Woman has first face transplant
30 Nov 05 |  Health
Q&A: Face transplant
16 Dec 05 |  Health

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