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Face transplant recipient recovering well

Updated: 2013-11-15 13:49
( Xinhua)

FUZHOU - Xu Jianmei recently made headlines around the world after becoming the latest patient to receive a full face transplant. One month on from her operation, doctors say the 17-year-old girl's new face is growing well.

Sitting on her bed at the Fujian Medical University Union Hospital in Fuzhou city, Fujian province, Xu's demeanor speaks volumes of how far she's come.

Able to smile for the first time in 12 years, doctors say it's a sure sign her recovery is on track.

Not only has the new facial tissue remained alive, new skin has grown on Xu's face.

"Xu is recovering very well now," said Xu's surgeon Jiang Chenghong, "Both her physical and mental condition are great. We are planning to release some of the skin on her neck to make it more flexible."

"We will also carry out some minor surgeries to get rid of the scars, especially those around her lips," he added.

Severely disfigured in a fire when she was just five years old, Xu lost her chin, eyelids, and a large part of her right ear.

Using skin grafted from her leg, Jiang's team grew a new face on Xu's chest, and transplanted it on October 14.

As part of her recovery, Xu is receiving frequency impulse electrotherapy to speed up healing of the scars on her face.

"The thick scars on her body and face are going to lead to itching and stinging and affect her body movements and facial expressions. That's why we are trying to remove the scars as soon as possible," Jiang said. "At the same time, we've made her a mask to ensure the new skin grows close to her muscles."

For Xu, finally being able to smile is just the beginning. Her surgical team expects she will be able to express herself even more precisely, as the tissue continues to heal.

At her first public appearance last month, Xu said she hoped to continue her schooling and attend college in the future.