Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery

Dr. Peter Neligan performing surgery
Dr. Peter Neligan performing surgery

​Under the leadership of Dr. Peter Neligan, Director of the Center for Reconstructive Surgery at UW Medicine, the Reconstructive Transplantation program will provide comprehensive care for patients in need of face and upper limb and abdominal wall transplants, giving them new opportunities and hope for the future. UW Medicine is joining an elite group of medical centers nationwide that are certified to perform these types of transplants.

Our reconstructive transplant team includes experts from reconstructive plastic surgery, transplant, psychiatry, otolaryngology, infectious disease, radiology, social work, nursing, nutrition, physical therapy, dentistry, ophthalmology, pain medicine, and pharmacy, working together to provide the best possible care for patients. Our transplant services combine advanced clinical research and innovative approaches to provide quality results and outstanding service to patients and their families.

Face Transplantation

The procedure of facial transplantation is a promising new method to restore the faces of patients with the most severe of facial injuries and deformities. Through a complex and time-consuming procedure, surgeons transfer facial structures as a unit, from donor to recipient. The transplanted unit is comprised of multiple tissue types, including skin, blood vessels, nerves, bone, and muscle.

Through this life-changing surgery, reconstructive transplant surgeons are able to restore damaged or non-functioning facial components as a whole. This goes beyond what conventional plastic surgery can provide, giving better aesthetic and functional results. Because both sensory and motor nerves are reconnected, sensation and facial movement are restored to the recipient, allowing for improved quality of life.

Upper Extremity Transplantation

Reconstructive hand transplants are for adults who have suffered a hand/arm amputation or extreme loss of function due to injury or illness. Patients may consider such a transplant if they have almost no function of the hands and are not a candidate for alternative or conventional reconstructive surgery. Patients may be a candidate for reconstructive transplant if they have lost either one hand or both at any level from the hand to the upper arm. Individuals who have only lost fingers or have lost the entire arm from the shoulder are not currently eligible for this type of transplant.

Referrals for Reconstructive Transplantation

When referrals are received, patients will be contacted by our reconstructive transplant coordinator. The transplant coordinator initiates a referral evaluation, which involves scheduling patients to be seen by both a psychiatrist and reconstructive surgeon.

Patients whose referrals are moved through to the Reconstructive Transplantation Program are scheduled for tests and appointments with our Transplant team comprised of Doctors, Nurses, Social Workers and Nutritionists. After these appointments have been completed, the Transplant Team meets to discuss the patient's case and make a decision about whether or not to list the patient for transplant.

For additional information, listen to Peter Neligan, MD introduce reconstructive transplantation on the UW Medicine Pulse Podcast "The Complexities of a Face Transplant" or download a fact sheet.

Patient and Family Education Videos

VCA Transplantation: About our program

Click to watch VCA Transplantation: About our program

Planning For Life with a VCA Transplant

Click to watch Planning For Life with a VCA Transplant