Face transplant eligibility

Face transplantation may be an option for people who have severe facial injuries, with or without significant tissue loss, which is not amenable to adequate reconstruction and restoration of function using conventional reconstructive techniques. People with severe burns, trauma, gun shot and other ballistic injuries, as well as some people who have congenital conditions and illnesses may be eligible for a face transplant.

Mayo Clinic offers full or partial face transplantation for people with severe facial deformities and impaired function of facial structures necessary for eye protection, breathing, swallowing, eating, speaking and other essential functions.

Your transplant team will evaluate you to determine whether a face transplant may be an option for you. To evaluate you, doctors may:

  • Perform a physical examination
  • Perform X-rays and CT scans
  • Assess your nerve function
  • Conduct blood tests and other tests
  • Perform tests to ensure you don't have any other serious medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, chronic nerve conditions, heart and blood vessel diseases (cardiovascular diseases), and certain infections
  • Perform tests and ask questions to ensure you are free from use of tobacco and recreational drugs and inappropriate use of alcohol
  • Order a psychological evaluation
  • Assess your support system

Besides face transplant, Mayo Clinic specialists also offer other treatment options for people who have facial deformity. Doctors individualize the treatment to your specific needs.

As you consider having a face transplant, your treatment team will explain to you what to expect before, during and after your face transplant. After your transplant, you'll need to be prepared to have regular follow-up care with your transplant doctors and surgeons and therapy for several months after your face transplant. You'll also need to take medications to prevent rejection of your transplanted face (immunosuppressive medications) for life. These medications may cause serious side effects.

If your doctors and transplant team determine that you could benefit from a face transplant, your treatment team will explain benefits and risks of a transplant. Your transplant coordinator and other members of your team will provide you and your family with education about the face transplant process at Mayo Clinic.

Sept. 26, 2014