Face transplant proves cost-effective

A new study published in the American Journal of Transplantation revealed that the cost of face transplantation in a very complicated patient is similar to the cumulative cost of multiple conventional reconstructions.

Led by Maria Siemionow, MD, PhD, DSc, of the Department of Plastic Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, surgeons assessed a 46-year old Caucasian female who suffered significant facial trauma following a shotgun blast in September 2004.

For four years, she underwent 23 separate, traditional reconstructive operations. In December 2008, she became the recipient of the first U.S. face transplant. It provided the unique opportunity to analyze the cost of the multiple reconstructions and the first face transplant in the United States.

Results found that the cost of the first U.S. face transplant was similar to multiple conventional reconstructions. The combined cost of multiple reconstructive procedures was $353,480, and face transplantation was $349, 959, respectively.

“Although the cost of facial transplantation is considerable, the alleviation of psychological and physiological suffering, exceptional functional recovery and fulfillment of long-lasting hope for social reintegration may be priceless,” Siemionow said.

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