Madrid: A team of surgeons has carried out the world's first full-face transplant on a young Spanish farmer unable to breathe or eat on his own since accidentally shooting himself in the face five years ago.
It was the most extensive operation yet and the 11th known face transplant worldwide.
During the 24-hour surgery, doctors lifted an entire face, including jaw, nose, cheekbones, muscles, teeth and eyelids, and placed it mask-like onto the man, Dr. Joan Pere Barret told The Associated Press on Friday.
Transplant experts hailed the surgery, carried out late last month at Barcelona's Vall d'Hebron Hospital, as a significant advance.
''It is a breakthrough. They are pushing the envelope and I am very happy for them,'' said Dr. Thomas Romo, chief of facial and reconstructive surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
Image: In this combo of computer-generated images released by the Vall d'Hebron Hospital in Barcelona, Spain on April 23, 2010, the various steps undertaken to perform a full-face transplant on a young male patient in late March 2010 are graphically illustrated.