News Stories

Are Face Transplants a Solution or a Bigger Problem?

The newest kind of plastic surgery is the face transplant. This is not done for the reason ordinary plastic surgery is usually done, because someone isn't happy with the way they look. People who get face transplants have been extremely disfigured, usually from car accidents or fires. For them, this is a life saver, even if it means they end up looking like someone else.

Plastic surgeon Raj Persaud is studying how having a new face is affecting these people psychologically. Psychologists are concerned that literally wearing another person's face may cause identity problems in an individual, even if, as is almost always the case, the recipient of the face did not know the donor.

Psychologist Didier Anzieu believes that our face is strongly tied to what Freud called our ego, or sense of self. After they wake up from the anesthesia, will these people still know who they are? He says that people undergoing face transplants are actually doing this for others, not for themselves, and that such a large sacrifice, that causes so much pain and confusion, is not necessarily a good idea. It can't be equated with having a life-saving transplant of someone else's heart, liver or kidney.

Bioethicists Richard Huxtable and Julie Woodley object to the fact that the media is portraying face transplant patients as being brave, when they may just be people who have bought our society's emphasis on outer?rather than inner?beauty.

Plastic surgeon Guy Foucher, president of the International Federation of Hand Surgeons, now opposes hand transplants because he says that they "transform a healthy, one-handed man into a sick man with two hands." In 1998, New Zealand's Clint Hallam became the first person in the world to receive a hand transplant. Two years later, he stopped taking his anti-rejection drugs because he said he didn't feel like himself anymore, and the hand was removed. It's the same reason that some deaf people object to giving up sign language, which they consider part of their culture, for attempts to try to speak with their voices, the way hearing people do.

Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

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