Holy crap. A 17-year-old girl in China’s Fujian Province has just received a new face from skin that was grown on her very own chest. Oh, the marvels of modern medicine. Advanced warning that while this story is ultimately uplifting the images below are not for the faint of heart.
When she was five she sustained horrible burns that left her without a chin, eyelids and most of her right ear. Her family didn’t have enough money for medical treatment at the time, but a year ago doctors had the bright — albeit freaky — idea to graft skin from her leg to grow face tissue on her chest. What? Surgeon Jiang Chenghong explained:
First, we took a piece of blood vessel fascia from her thigh and implanted it in her chest. Then we inserted a skin expander beneath the part of skin where the blood vessel fascia was planted, so that the part could expand and produce enough skin for her new face.
Unlike more common skin graft procedures, where an uninjured piece of tissue is simply moved from one part of the body to another, doctors grew a specially sized graft over a network of blood vessels transplanted from Xu Jianmei’s thigh. This ensures proper bloodflow, and could even give Xu a natural blushing reaction, her doctor says. Once doctors felt had enough healthy tissue growing to keep the face alive, they transplanted it to her face. The operation was completed on Monday, but they’ll see just how successful the transplant has been as her face heals. And doctors say that will probably take a while. [China Global Times via Arbroath]