WEDNESDAY, Sept. 25, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Six years after having a face transplant, Carmen Blandin Tarleton’s doctors have found tissue damage that will most likely lead to loss of the face.
Tarleton, whose face was burned in a domestic violence attack, is being considered for another transplant, according to the Boston Globe. That is an option Tarleton, 51, would prefer instead of being left with the scarred, misshapen face she had after her assault.
To date, more than 44 face transplants have been done around the world, including 15 in the United States. Last year, a French surgeon gave a patient a second face transplant to replace the one done eight years before. In addition to their limited life span, face transplants are still experimental and data are lacking on their risks and benefits, according to the Globe. Some people who have had face transplants report infections and side effects from antirejection medication.
Tarleton has had bouts of rejection when her new face became swollen and red. Although doctors were able to treat the infection, this new episode resulted in swelling and sores along the edges of the transplant on her neck and near her ears. Doctors found that some blood vessels to her face had narrowed and closed and facial tissue had died and turned dark. Depending on how fast the deterioration progresses, Tarleton may be placed on a donor list, or if the damage happens fast, her face will have to be reconstructed, leaving her severely disfigured, according to the Globe.