The Reconstructive Frontier

Plastic surgery has always been an element of the medical community that has been sorely misunderstood. Whenever anyone hears those words they tend to summon forth images of vapid people who are getting unnecessary surgeries. This is a common misunderstanding for so many people in the public realm. Many people living in this period of time do not realize that plastic surgery isn’t here to solely provide enhancements, but rather it is here to help people fix problems. Originally the practice was started in order to help war veterans who had received a horrific disfigurement due to the wars they served in. It allowed them to return to society without having to feel like a monster on the street and carry on normal and healthy lives.

How we look effects our personality and how we react to certain situations. In many cases we can be depressed, agitated easily, and wind up being miserable if we think something about us cannot be changed. Our looks are very important to us, so why so many people feel that they can openly judge someone who feels the need to get something taken care of is just wrong.

Case in point, Richard Norris made waves recently after being the subject of an article from GQ. This is a magazine that reserves such an honor for those brawny few with muscle or looks. When you see Richard Norris you don’t think much about him but once you read about his story you’ll do a double take. Richard is the first person to have ever received a full face transplant. You see, the face he has wasn’t one he was born with, but in fact is a donors face; he also has the donors jaw, teeth, and hair (both facial and on top). All of that was given to him.

Some history, a 22 year old Richard Norris came home to his parents house in Virginia. He was rather drunk at the time and got into a fight with his mother. She sent him to his room to cool off and a few minutes later he came down stairs with a loaded shotgun. Now he doesn’t remember what happened, but his mother stated that it was an accident, and he shot his face off; leaving only his eyes and the top part of his head. Since then he has lived in a house without mirrors and wearing a black mask.

This happened in 1993, he received the surgery in 2012 that gave him the face he has today. The procedure was thought up by Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, and this was after multiple attempts to fix his old face but those surgeries did not pan out. He proposed the highly experimental procedure to Richard and his mother who said yes to it. It was risky because if the transplant did not work Richard was going to die because there is no going back after the surgery was over.

Today, Richard is as you see him in that GQ article. Normal looking and able to eat, shave, smile slightly, and most importantly, able to look into a mirror. Now the psychological effects are still being examined in Richard’s case, but as of now he seems to be adjusting well to his new face and the life it will bring.