Women Queue At The Morgue to Get The Pick of the Freshest Faces

Peter Butler, an Irish plastic surgeon with expert knowledge in microsurgical techniques, technically could skin you alive although he is unlikely to have any wish to do so. He does not carry out cosmetic surgery in Ireland but leads the first team of medical specialists who, in the UK in 2006, were given permission by the NHS ethics board to carry out face transplants. Would you like one?

Picture of a Klenz ad for makeup brushes.

There is something about the idea of face transplants that horrifies us. On one level it maybe because we know that the facial tissue will come from a dead person and so we recoil. On another level our face and eyes are so tied up with our identity and our idea of ourselves that we naturally alarmed at the thought of having the face of someone else. The eyes are supposed to be the windows of the soul and so with a transplant there is a different soul looking through someone else's face. We can cope with heart and lung transplants because they are internal.

Certain groups of women seem to opt for an identikit look just through the way they dye their hair, pluck their eyebrows and dress. Some go further and have their faces surgically altered to achieve a particular look. It seems that the look over rides every thing else that might be of significance about them or they feel the look is more important than anything they might think, say or do. So is it really such a big leap then for them to have a face transplant? In the future will women queue at the morgue to get the pick of the freshest faces? Will they jostle like they do at the winter sales?

The team headed up by Peter Butler will carry out face transplants where it is medically necessary and where there is no other option. He has had to battle long and hard to get the idea accepted and is really committed to helping the seriously disfigured. It is strange to think that the rest of us can consider all sorts of nips and tucks almost on a whim but the seriously disfigured are expected to get on with life as they are. Is the fear that if they are allowed this surgery that other people might want the same for what may seem like whimsical reasons? You can read an interview given to the Guardian newspaper by Peter Butler in 2006 by clicking here.
To go through life with an extremely disfigured face caused by burns, birth defects or disease is not something we would wish to do. It is interesting to see that Simon Weston, who was so badly disfigured in the Falklands's war, welcomes the decision to allow face transplants. The world's first partial facial transplant carried out on French woman Isabelle Dinoire was regarded as a success by her and her surgeon. There was no way of restoring the functioning of her mouth in eating and speaking without the transplant because she was so badly savaged by her own dog while asleep. A French man called Pascal Coler whose face was totally disfigured by tumors was delighted when his face was transformed by a transplant.

The procedure takes many hours by teams of specialists on rotation. The recipients own face is removed and replaced. They will not look like the deceased person because it takes its shape from the musculature and bones of their own face. The downside of the operation is that there is a risk of their body rejecting the tissue and they are likely to have to take drugs on a daily basis, forever, to suppress the immune system.

We are fortunate to have surgeons like Peter Butler who have taken time to study this subject in such depth and lets hope and pray we will never need him to skin us alive.
Picture of a Klenz ad for smelly feet.
You may like to read another essay style piece at Top Surgeons.

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