While surgeons have successfully performed face transplantation, people must take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their life.
McGowan Institute researchers are designing techniques to give patients a natural-looking, fully functioning face that their immune system won't reject.
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
450 Technology Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Researchers are working on lab-grown implants that can help regenerate the complex facial structures of bone, cartilage, muscle, and skin.
Charles Sfeir, DDS, leads the Center for Craniofacial Regeneration. The center designs tissue engineering-based treatments for wounds and defects of the face and skull that restore function and appearance.
Because the tissues of the face and skull are many and complex, the Center’s team represents many disciplines. And they're rooted in the many achievements by University of Pittsburgh researchers in tissue regeneration and biomaterial development.
In 2017, the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine received an $11.7grant to advance tissue regeneration therapies for craniofacial tissues.
The grant allows researchers to guide new treatments from the research stages through preclinical studies and into human clinical trials. Charles Sfeir, DDS, PhD, and William Wagner, PhD, are lead researchers from the McGowan Institute.
Mario Solari, MD, and Kia Washington, MD, lead research in the Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation and Microsurgery (VCAM) Lab.
They research and perform microsurgical transplantation of tissues that have blood vessels, such as.
They also study the components of muscle, nerve, skin, and bone.
To help new tissues join with a person’s own, researchers are working on methods that rely on a person's own cells.
The McGowan Institute's J. Peter Rubin, MD, is researching a new form of facial reconstruction, called fat grafting. Fat grafting can help improve soft tissue defects in the head and face.
Fat grafting is common. Plastic surgeons performed about 65,000 fat graft procedures in 2011. But, using it for facial reconstruction is a completely new, experimental use of this well-known treatment.
Dr. Rubin believes this technique of fat grafting could be of great benefit to people with severe head and face injuries.
A 2014 study queried the 2011 U.S. Nationwide Emergency Department (ED) Sample for primary diagnosis of head and neck injury encounters.
The study found the following about primary injuries of the head and neck:
The work described here—unless noted otherwise—are research projects in various stages of maturity.
For clinically available therapies, please follow the links below.
Expert plastic surgery care is available at Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at UPMC.
Expert dental care is available at UPMC Presbyterian Dental Center.