A 28-year-old man has received a face transplant at a hospital outside Paris, the doctor who performed the surgery told AFP Friday.
The 15-hour operation, completed Friday morning at Henri Mondor Hospital in Creteil, a suburb east of Paris, is the fifth face transplant in the world, and the third in France.
"The patient's face was disfigured by a shotgun blast," the surgeon, Laurent Lantieri, said.
"The patient is awake and is doing well. But it is far too early to say whether the transplant will take," he said, adding that 15 medical personnel took part in operation.
A patient's immune system will frequently reject a skin graft from a donor, requiring the systematic use of immunosuppressive drugs.
The gun shot had destroyed the muscles in the man's lower face such that he could not open his mouth, even after several operations, Lantieri explained.
A large portion of the face of the donor was removed, along with bone to repair the recipient's upper jaw.
Lantieri said that the transplant was similar to another he performed in 2007, as well as one done by Maria Siemionow in the United States in 2008.
The 29-year-old recipient of the 2007 transplant, known as Pascal, suffered from a rare genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis that had covered much of his face in a disfiguring tumour.
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.
A Chinese man who underwent a facial transplant 2006 after being attacked by a bear died in 2008.