A 27-year-old woman is expected to have a nose and a mouth again after a series of surgeries in Shanghai.
Experts said they have used an innovative method to rebuild the woman's face, cultivating nose and upper lip tissues on her chest area for later transplant.
Such technology, which uses the patient's own tissue rather than a donor, is a major breakthrough in the field, according to Shanghai No 9 People's Hospital affiliated with the School of Medicine at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
The woman is from a remote village in Shiyan, Hubei province. At the age of 1, she suffered a high fever and a rare reaction in which her own immune system attacked parts of her body - a condition known as sepsis. Lacking medical care, she lost her nose and lips.
This year, the woman shared her experience online using the screen name “Yeluzi”, which drew wide attention from netizens.
Li Qingfeng, an orthopedic expert at the hospital, said sepsis can result in many tissue defects.
After several rounds of discussion, a team at the hospital came up with a medical strategy to reconstruct the woman's face. The team combines experts in oral surgery, oral-cranio-maxillofacial surgery and other disciplines.
It uses 3-D printing technology to reconstruct the incomplete facial features, helping doctors evaluate the patient and design a comprehensive treatment plan.
Under the plan, the woman will undergo four surgeries to get a new nose and mouth, according to Li, the team leader for the rehabilitation and reconstruction work.
On Monday, the woman underwent a surgery lasting more than 10 hours for initial facial reshaping.
All the surgeries are expected to be finished within six months, the hospital said.
The new tissue-growth method won second prize in the 2016 National Scientific Technology Progress Award. More than 40 cases have been successfully handled at the hospital, and the technique has been adopted by other hospitals across the country, the Shanghai hospital said.
Xinhua contributed to this story.