Fact Check

Nose on Forehead

Photograph shows a man with a nose growing on his forehead?

Published Sep 26, 2013

Claim:   Photograph shows a man with a nose growing on his forehead.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, September 2013]

Is this real?

Can this be anything but a faux-to graph?


Origins:   This photograph seemingly showing a man with a nose growing on his forehead was circulated widely on the Internet in September 2013, with many who viewed it questioning its authenticity. However, the image was genuine, and it shows a Chinese man preparing to undergo reconstructive surgery after an accident that damaged his original nose and required surgeons to attempt to construct a new nose for him:

In Aug. 2012, Xiaolian, 22, had his life changed dramatically. After a car accident left his nose infected and damaged, there was no hope of him ever looking the same again —

that is until doctors in the Fuzhou, Fujian province of China decided to sculpt a new nose for him.

The procedure is called flap prefabrication, which is a newer technique in reconstructive plastic surgery. Surgeons are using the skin and cartilage from Xiaolian ribs and are moving the cartilage up to his forehead while waiting for the blood supply to grow in. After they take both the skin and cartilage from his forehead to do the nasal reconstruction.

Ultimately, they decided that his forehead would be the best location. Now, the young man has an almost full-grown nose on his head, as doctors wait for the process to be complete. Afterward, they will perform the nose transplant.

The following video includes some Chinese news footage of the story:

This case was similar to one reported on earlier in the year about a British man who lost his nose to skin cancer, with doctors growing a replacement on his arm:

A British businessman who lost his nose to cancer is growing a new one — in his arm.

If all goes well it will eventually be removed and sewn on to his face, with experts at University College London hoping he will have feeling and a sense of smell.

The new nose began as a glass mould, based on the original, which was sprayed with a synthetic honeycomb-like material to create a framework for stem cells to cling to.

The mould was then removed and the honey-comb covered with millions of these 'blank cells' which, with the right nutrients, can turn into the cartilage of the nose — a

process which took place at UCL in a rotating jar called a bioreactor.

Meanwhile, the skin on the man's arm was gradually stretched by a small balloon placed under the surface and inflated until it was loose enough to accommodate the nose.

When the framework was ready, it replaced the balloon under the stretched skin.

The new nose is now bulging out of the man's arm, where it is acquiring networks of nerves and tiny blood vessels, as well as a covering of skin from the arm. As Professor Seifalian told BBC Focus magazine: 'We can make the nose but we can’t make the skin.'

After at least three months there, the nose will be removed and sewn in place on the man's face in an operation that should not leave any scars. The arm should return to normal, with the skin stitched back together.

Last updated:   26 September 2013


    Innes, Emma.   "That Really Is a Nose Job!"

    Daily Mail.   25 September 2013.

    Macrae, Fiona.   "Cancer Victim Who Lost His Nose to Disease Is Growing a New One."

    Daily Mail.   22 January 2013.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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