Doctors in France grew a nose on a woman’s forearm that was later transplanted onto her face. Plastic surgeons say it is one of the first-ever instances of the procedure.

The woman, who previously had sinus cancer, lost a large portion of her nose and underwent multiple failed reconstructions, according to a Tuesday, Nov. 8, news release from a hospital in Toulouse.

Eventually, a new method involving growing skin over a 3D-printed prosthetic was proposed and attempted, according to the release.

“This is a technique that’s been used for other parts of the body but never the nose because the nose is so three-dimensional it’s hard to get the outer lining, middle lining, and inner lining,” Dr. Ben Talei, a facial plastic surgeon in California, told McClatchy News.

The entire process required multiple steps and took place over several months, according to the release.

First, the prosthesis was made and placed on the woman’s forearm, Talei said.

These types of prosthetics are usually “porous so that your own cells can grow in,” Dr. Michael Salzhauer, a plastic surgeon in Florida, told McClatchy News.

A section of skin on the forearm was then wrapped around the prosthetic and a vein and artery were attached so the area would be “vascularized,” Talei said.

Then, after a few months, doctors transplanted the new nose onto the woman’s face and reconnected the blood vessels through microsurgery, according to the release. Talei said the surgery has been a success so far.

“They’ve done similar things – most commonly with ears,” Salzhauer said. “I think it’s a very promising technique especially as technology improves, particularly the 3D printing of the scaffolding, which was not available 20 years ago.”

“This medical first is opening the way to a less invasive treatment for patients maimed by tumor or other trauma,” according to a news release from Cerhum, a Belgian manufacturer that made the prosthetic.

The woman has recovered and is being monitored by doctors, according to the release.

Story continues

She was discharged from the hospital 10 days after the operation and can already breathe “a little better,” according to 20 Minutes, a French newspaper.

Google Translate was used to translate the 20 Minutes story.

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