Swedish surgeons have used 358 leeches to help reconstruct a woman’s face that was bitten off during a horrific dog attack.
The woman, from the south of the country, had a huge proportion of her face bitten off in the mauling by her own dog, spanning from her upper lip all the way to her eye.
As she was rushed to hospital last month, her relatives who were with her at the time, managed to recover the loose skin and keep it chilled.
They quickly arrived at Skane University Hospital in Malmo with the flesh, which was able to be re-attached with the help of 358 leeches.
Larsson then called another specialist, Stina Klasson, to come in and help her with the operation.
‘The most important thing was to get blood into the torn-off body part, which we managed to do within an hour of the start of the operation’, Klasson said.
The complicated surgery lasted for 15 hours, during which Klasson and Larsson had to repair the unnamed woman’s upper lip, nose and parts of her cheek.
During the procedure, the specialists used the leeches to force blood to flow into the damaged skin.
The leeches helped re-start circulation through their sucking and blood-thinning fluids.
Klasson said: ‘The grower who supplies the hospital with leeches ran out, so more had to be flown in from the UK.’
The doctors said the operation was successful, but the woman will continue to need re-constructive surgery in the future.
Larsson said: ‘The results appear to be good. Her whole nose has survived. The patient can breathe, eat and talk.’
Although similar procedures using leeches have been performed around the world, this operation is thought to be the first of its kind in the Nordic region.
The patient’s dog was put down after the attack.