Behind the delicate art of facial reconstruction surgery

Facial reconstruction surgery and face transplants are two of the most delicate medical procedures that can be done.

The first "near-total" face transplant in the United States was performed in 2008 at the Cleveland Clinic, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The patient was Connie Culp, who required surgery after being shot in the face.

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Facial surgery is naturally a very sensitive procedure. In facial transplant situations, transplant recipients must go through extensive psychological testing, as the procedure and recovery can be emotionally difficult.

The surgery itself is also a delicate process for the surgeons involved, due to the many small and sensitive aspects of the face that must be cared for, including the eyes, nose and many minuscule blood vessels.

At Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham in Birmingham, United Kingdom, employees create models and prosthetics used to perform facial reconstruction operations.

Take a look behind the scenes at the delicate process of preparing for and performing facial reconstructions: