More than 30 people across the world have received face transplants since the first procedure was successfully carried out in France in 2005. The discussion has long since moved on from initial apprehensions to the practicalities involved in improving the technique. As a treatment for facial disfigurement which enhances quality of life, the clinical need is established and results to date have been encouraging.
There is of course room for improvement, as the practice is still in its early days and rarely performed. Tissue rejection is a major issue for instance, meaning that the patient may need high doses of immunosuppressive drugs for life. Difficulties matching blood type, age, skin tone and hair colour are also preventing face transplants from becoming more routine.