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A woman with a disfigured face in China is about to have her face “rebuilt” by doctors who plan to grow a new one right on her chest.
Using the patient’s own tissue, the Chinese surgeons are planning to have her nose and mouth cultivated first before transferring them via a transplant to her face in about one year. The whole “life-changing” procedure will cost the 27-year-old woman roughly around 500,000 yuan ($72,600).
According to Huanqiu (via Daily Mail), the patient’s nose, lips, and cheeks became disfigured due to complications caused by a high fever when she was just two years old. The fingers on her right-hand were damaged as well. Growing up, the woman had difficulty eating and speaking.
Under the pseudonym “Ye Lv Zi,” the woman from Hubei Province shared her story on social media last year. Her post caught the attention of Chinese netizens with many offering their sympathies while various offers of help started coming from medical professionals.
A renowned orthopedic surgeon from Shanghai No. 9 People’s Hospital would eventually lead a team that would come up with a first-of-its-kind facial reconstructing plan. The hospital has determined that Ye Lv Zi’s condition was caused by a rare case of sepsis.
Committed to helping the woman to have a new face, Dr. Li Qingfeng assembled a highly competent team of doctors from oral surgery, oral-craniomaxillofacial surgery and other disciplines within the hospital.
It was Dr. Li Qingfeng and his team who developed the tissue-growth method they plan to use for the patient. The procedure, which won the second prize in China’s National Scientific Technology Progress Award in 2016, has been proven effective, with a total of 42 successful operations using the method to date.
The pioneering plan involves taking a fascial flap from the blood vessels on the woman’s thigh and then planting it on the woman’s chest. The face is then grown using the tissue expansion technique. To begin, the doctors also utilized 3D printing technology in creating the life-size models of the patient’s potential facial features.
According to Dr.Qingfeng, the procedure involves four stages that will span about a year. The full recovery may take two to three years.
“The woman’s facial features have not fully developed and this makes her different from other people,” Qingfeng told Dragon TV. “The reconstruction of the internal structure of her nose and mouth is harder than that of normal burnt and injured patients.”
Ye Lv Zi went through the first stage of the operation on Monday, which covered the facial reshaping. In a post on Weibo back in February, Ye Lv Zi said she is grateful for the opportunity and feels excited toward the outcome of the surgery.
“I cherish every opportunity for a change in life,” she wrote. “I want to experience more – good things or bad. Maybe that’s the best present life gives me.”
A similar procedure was completed by First Affiliated Hospital of Xian Jiaotong University in Xian last month, wherein a man’s lost ear was replaced by growing it on the patient’s arm and attaching it back to his head.