Odd Enough This guy lost his nose in a bear attack. Now, he's regrowing it— on his arm

Surprisingly, the medical technique has been around for decades.

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(Rodale Inc.)

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Lee Brooke, 60, suffered one of the worst case outcomes in a hunting trip last year: he became the hunted. A massive grizzly bear mauled Brook in a brutal attack, ripping off the Pennsylvania man’s nose and mouth.

But a year later, he claims that doctors may have a revolutionary treatment that could save his face.

According to the Daily Mail, Brooke revealed on the British TV show This Morning that doctors had re-attached his severed nose—not to his face, but to his arm, where they were attempting to regrow the tissue. His nose currently protrudes from his right wrist, but Brooke says doctors will reattach it to his face as he continues to heal, although the process will take another few years.

The surgical technique almost seems too bizarre to believe, but a plastic surgeon told Men's Health the technique has been around for years.

"It’s totally believable," Dr. David Rapaport told Men's Health in an interview. "What they are doing with this man involves technology that we’ve had for over 20 years.”

Rapaport said it was extremely fortunate that Brooke's friends found his severed nose. He explained that cartilage is a very unique substance—it survives not by direct blood flow, but by oxygen diffusing from blood flowing around it. There are no actual vessels that run through it, so it can survive for a bit if the flow is cut off.

To re-attach it, doctors needed to keep it alive, so they performed a process called "banking," or putting a delicate tissue under a layer of thin skin somewhere else on the body—in this case, on the man's wrist. Forearm skin is particularly thin, according to Rapaport, which makes it a perfect spot to store a nose under the surface while Brooke's face heals enough for it to be reattached. Bloodflow from the nearby radial artery will keep the nose alive in the mean time.

"This is really the bread and butter of reconstructive plastic surgery," Rapaport said, recalling a case 27 years ago, when he was a resident. His patient had "degloved" one of his hands—in other words, stripped the skin and flesh away, but leaving the bones and tendons intact.

Rapaport "banked" the man's fingers in his groin—another thin area with good blood flow—literally sewing his skeletal hand into the skin of his crotch for three weeks, and then was able to repair the fingers with other skin grafts.

It may not be the newest in medical advancements, but it's still damn impressive.

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