The four category systematic approach for selecting patients for face transplantation

J Plast Surg Hand Surg. 2022 Apr;56(2):79-86. doi: 10.1080/2000656X.2021.1933995. Epub 2021 Jul 13.


There is a need for a systematic approach to evaluate patients for potential face transplantation (FT). Ten patients with severe facial defects treated between 1995 and 2017 formed the study group. Data was collected from patient charts and clinical, radiological and laboratory examinations. Facial deficiencies were subdivided into four different categories: anatomical region (10 facial subunits), facial function, aesthetic defect (range 0-9-worst), and impact on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) (15D questionnaire, range 0-1). Immunological status and possible contraindications were also evaluated. Defect aetiology consisted of burns (4), ballistic injury (3), blunt injury (1), blast injury (1), and neurofibromatosis type I (1). All patients had central facial deficiencies and 6 patients had 8 to 10 injured facial subunits. All patients had at least partial loss of facial function. The mean aesthetic disfigurement score was 6.4. The median lowering of 15D score was -0.107. None were significantly sensitized although four patients had relative contraindications and one patient had an absolute contraindication for FT. Three patients with a severe overall facial deficiency were considered as potential FT candidates. We herein propose a comprehensive and systematic tool to evaluate potential candidates for FT. This approach includes assessment of 4 key categories: anatomical regions affected, facial function, aesthetics, and HRQoL.

Keywords: Facial allotransplantation; candidate selection; functional outcomes; vascularized composite allotransplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Burns* / complications
  • Facial Injuries* / surgery
  • Facial Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Patient Selection
  • Quality of Life