Psychological management and body image issues in facial transplantation

Simon E Brill, Alex Clarke, David M Veale, Peter E M Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Facial transplantation, although controversial, is proposed as a major advance in facial reconstructive surgery, with the first partial transplant having taken place in France in November 2005. Although the psychological impact of facial transplantation will not be understood until several procedures have been carried out, this article examines the psychological issues likely to arise with particular reference to body image. A detailed framework for anticipation and management of psychological change is proposed. Pre-operative preparation must include thorough psychological preparation for the patient and their family. The immediate post-operative period is likely to be challenging, and a detailed management plan is proposed emphasising early return to function; subsequent psychological issues including altered body image, anxiety, shame, depression, communication and behavioural avoidance are discussed and a management strategy based on cognitive behavioural principles is proposed for the first post-operative year. Previous discussion frames psychological outcome in terms of complication and risk, tending to downplay the potential advantages of a successful procedure; the focus of this paper is on ensuring psychological adjustment as an inevitable consequence of change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalBody Image
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


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