Key to tomorrow's youthful look
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Tuesday 23 September 1997
Just as the extraordinary techniques developed 50 years ago by Sir Harold Gillies, the father of plastic surgery, for treating badly burnt Second World War bomber pilots have metamorphosed into nips and tucks for the pampered rich, so new methods being developed for today's accident victims may find a place in the beauty salons of the 21st century.
Could Cindy Jackson, 42, who underwent 27 operations at a cost of pounds 60,000 have saved herself the trouble with a single face transplant?
Although face transplants are technically possible, their introduction is held up by problems of rejection. Powerful immunosuppressant drugs are not justified for non-life-threatening conditions and even disciples of self-improvement such as Ms Jackson would draw the line at taking potentially toxic doses.
James Frame, consultant plastic surgeon at St Andrew's hospital, Essex, who has been doing research in the area for four years, said: "What the transplant world is waiting for is a way of overcoming the rejection problem without drugs."
The best candidate is "transfection" - a method of transferring genes to the new tissue, using a virus as a carrier to "infect" it, ensuring that it is accepted by the recipient of the transplant.
Mr Frame said the first candidates for a face transplant, were it to become possible, would be cancer patients. "If someone has surgery for cancer of the mouth the best we can do for them is lift a section of skin from their back and transfer it to their face. The results are not very good. I feel as a cosmetic surgeon we ought to be able to offer them something better."
But creating a new look for the vain would be more difficult than replacing skin and underlying tissue with someone else's face. Mr Frame said: "It can't be done. The skeleton would still be there. Because of that basic background, whatever you put over the top you would still be left with the same individual."
- 2 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian combined with near-naked ensemble
In defence of liberal democracy
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
Andy McSmith's Sketch: Feisty audience is the real star of an enlightening show
£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...
£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...
£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...