A mother-of-one who lost her nose eight years ago in a battle with cancer has finally got a new one — after growing it on her arm.
The French patient, known only as Carine, had part of her real nose cut off to treat sinus cancer in 2013.
While the surgery saved her life, the lasting damage left her too scared to leave the house and robbed her of her sense of smell.
Before she had the cancer treatment, doctors crafted a custom-made nose using 3D-printed biomaterial and kept it on ice until technology caught up.
This year, the structure was then implanted under the skin in her forearm where cells and blood vessels grew into the device over two months.
Two months later, the ‘nose’ was then implanted onto her face, with the blood vessels inside it then attached to those in her temples.
The patient is thrilled with the new nose, and says it is helping her to breathe better and smell her garden. Another operation will be needed to allow feeling in the organ.
It comes after it was revealed in May that a British man had a new penis transplanted onto his genital region, after re-growing it on his forearm.
Carine told 20 minutes that she can now breathe ‘a little better’ with the new nose.
She added: ‘I also find the smells of my garden, I can go out, I come back to life.
‘It’s miraculous, this biomaterial was my last resort and I salute the research and the work of the doctors who helped me to hold on.
‘I stayed shut inside my home for these past eight years. When you are sick, you isolate yourself and the face is what you see first.’
The patient was diagnosed with nasal cancer in 2013, and received chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat it.
This got rid of the cancer, but also robbed the patient of most of her nose.
Doctors initially tried giving her skin grafts to replace the lost tissue, but these died off.
They also offered her prosthetics, but the patient struggled to keep them in place.
It was at this point that surgeons Dr Agnes Dupret-Bories and Dr Benjamin Valerie suggested that they try re-growing the nose.
They implanted the device on the forearm because here the skin is much thinner, similar to that in the face.
The patient had to visit the hospital repeatedly while the skin was growing to ensure it was working well and there was no damage.
After two months they decided it had grown enough to be moved up to her nose.
Once in place the scientists used a microscope to attach the blood vessels in the device to those in the face.
To replace the lost skin on the forearm, they took a graft from her thighs.
The patient spent ten days in hospital after the procedure and was given antibiotics – but it was a success.
Dr Dupret-Bories told France3 the patient was ‘very enthusiastic’ for the operation.
‘It is a tailor-made implant in biomaterial, which was basically scaffolding to be colonized by the patient’s body,’ she said.
‘On reconstructions of such large parts of the face, there was no solution.
‘With this device, we hope that we will be able to offer a satisfactory result in two operations.’
The patient currently has no feeling in the implant, which doctors termed an aesthetic and social reconstruction.
A third operation will be needed to restore these sensations, they suggested.