A woman whose face was ripped off by a dog has become the first person in the world to have a full facial transplant. The 36-year-old, who lost her nose, lips and chin in the attack, received replacement features from a dead donor.
The woman will not look exactly like the woman whose face she now has because the skull is not the same shape but it is thought she will look similar.
The ground-breaking surgery was carried out by a specialist team of plastic surgeons in France. Doctors feared that her body would reject the face and they would be faced with patching her up instead. But the first 48 hours saw the woman's body make the necessary adjustments to the surgery.
The operation meant pulling the new face over the skull of the patient. It also meant connecting nerves and blood vessels.
Immune suppressing drugs will be given to the woman for the rest of her life so that her body does not begin to attack the new face as a foreign body part.
Professor Peter Butler, a consultant plastic surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, said: "It is a great step forward for European science and medicine." The head of the medical team in France was also the doctor who carried out the world's first hand transplant operation in 1998.
More than 400,000 people in the UK who have severe facial deformities may well benefit from the pioneering work carried out by the surgeons in Amiens in northern France on the patient who wants to remain anonymous.