Science News

New nose grown on forehead

Thu, 26th Sep 2013

Chris Smith

Doctors in China have grown a replacement nose on the forehead of a man injured in a car accident.

The 22 year old crash victim's own nose was destroyed by infection, Nose grown on Foreheadwhich set in after the man was injured last year.

The infection eroded the cartilage that provides the nose with its shape and contour, leaving the man badly disfigured.

To remedy this, doctors in China's Fujian province inserted a nose-shaped template beneath the skin on one side of the patient's forehead, alongside cartilage harvested from his ribcage.

The result is a replacement nose covered with facial-type skin and with a good nerve and a blood supply that is already plumbed in from the forehead.

Once the skin on the forehead has stretched and grown sufficiently, the new nose can be partially cut away and rotated down, still connected to its blood supply, into the correct position in the centre of the patient's face.

Meanwhile, the skin of the forehead will be brought back together and cleanly sutured in place.

The procedure isn't without risk, since if infection sets in again it could destroy the new cartilage. But the presence of a good blood supply and antibiotic cover should minimise the chances of this happening.

And, because the new nose has patent airways, and the nerves which supply the sense of smell are at the bridge of the nose and, as far as we know, have not been affected by the patient's injuries, then there is every chance of the patient having an excellent cosmetic and functional outcome...

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Interesting technique, although they aren't "growing" a nose, but rather constructing one with plastic surgery techniques, just using forehead tissue as part of the process. CliffordK, Thu, 26th Sep 2013

You're right; it's actually pretty standard plastic surgery, although they are growing the nose because the skin that will cover it is being triggered to grow owing to the tension stimulus applied by the underlying nose "shape", which is stretching the skin. chris, Fri, 27th Sep 2013

Why was it grown on the forehead? Is it simply that the skull provides a more stable base or is there a different reason? Super Hans, Mon, 7th Oct 2013

The forehead apparently gave a good stable place to build the nose. 

Thinking of my body, the forehead is one of the few places that grows no hair.  The thin hair from an arm, or leg would still look funny on the nose.  And, of course, if there are other differences in the skin, the forehead would still be a good match.

As mentioned in the article, the vascular supply to the forehead could be preserved when the nose is moved into place, and thus no new artery/vein connections need to be made.  perhaps even nerves would be preserved, although it may seem odd to if touching the nose is felt on the forehead.

A similar procedure is often done with breast reconstruction surgery in which a tummy flap is moved into the breast area, preserving the original vascular connections to the tissue being moved. CliffordK, Mon, 7th Oct 2013

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