Laurent Lantieri, the French face transplant pioneer said Friday he will begin training US army surgeons to repair the disfigured faces of hundreds of soldiers wounded in Iraq.
The plastic surgeon who has successfully carried out four face transplants had waged a long campaign with the French government to win permission to help the US medics.
After months of meetings, French and US officials agreed the terms for the new cooperation and Lantieri said the first surgeons will begin arriving in Paris next year for training.
Of 2,500 American soldiers who suffered severe facial injuries in combat in Iraq between 2001 and 2007, between 200 and 300 are potential candidates for a face transplant, Lantieri told AFP.
Many of them lost part of their faces in explosions and "there is no way of repairing this through conventional techniques," he said.
"We can fix a nose that is out of kilter... and some broken face bones, but not torn lips, or replace eyelids nor repair fourth-degree burns for which a transplant may be necessary," he said.
The first successful face transplant was performed in France in 2005 on Isabelle Dinoire, a 38-year-old woman who had been mauled by her dog.