There is the old phrase, “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.” It means don’t make an overreaction or jump into something without thinking about it first. Good advice. Events in India, however, might change the meaning of the adage. In an effort to improve a boy’s life, doctors did cut the nose off his face. Strangely enough, that nose was growing on his forehead.
Arun Patel couldn’t help that other children made fun of him. The 12-year-old had a collapsed hole in the center of his face. Born into a poor family in the city of Indore, Madhya Pradesh, he developed an infection within days of his birth. Untrained doctors in the village sought to cure the infection, which developed in Arun’s nose, with medically unsound injections. You could call their efforts effective, albeit not in the intended fashion. The infection disappeared, but so did the skin and tissue in the nose. In fact, the infant’s face dried up and flaked apart, with 75% of the nose disappearing.
For eleven years, Arun struggled to breathe. Fortunately, in 2015, his story reached the ears of someone who could help. Dr. Ashwini Dash, a plastic surgeon, had heard of a rare surgery performed in China during which a new nose was grown on a patient’s forehead. Dr. Dash had wanted to attempt a similar procedure and thought Arun’s situation the perfect opportunity. Dash assembled a team of surgeons to perform a ‘pre-fabricated forehead flap rhinoplasty.’ A regular nose job was out of the question because Arun’s nose tissue was almost all dead or missing.
The pre-fabricated surgery took a year to complete and consisted of four stages. First, they placed a special silicon expander on Arun’s forehead. A month later, a chemical injection expanded the tissue on his forehead. At this same time, the doctors took cartilage from Arun’s chest and shaped a new nose. They inserted their creation into the expanding tissue sack on Arun’s forehead.
The shaped cartilage stayed there for three months while growing with a steady supply of fresh blood. The final step of the procedure involved removing the nose from the boy’s forehead and transplanting it to its rightful location in the center of his face. A final surgery repaired the damage to his forehead. Unsurprisingly, after the miraculous procedure, Arun is quickly healing both emotionally and physically.
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