Boston, Massachusetts, May 10 : The United States' first full face transplant recipient on Monday made his first public appearance since the 15-hour procedure in March.
Dallas Wiens, sporting a goatee and dark sunglasses, joined surgeons at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
"It feels natural," said the 25-year-old Fort Worth, Texas, man, who received a new nose, lips, skin, muscle and nerves from an anonymous donor.
The operation was paid for by the US military, which hopes to use findings from the procedure to help soldiers with severe facial wounds.
Wiens' features were all but burned away and he was left blind after hitting a power line while painting a church in November 2008.
On Monday, Wiens appeared before a packed room of reporters and photographers with a new, somewhat swollen face and a new head of hair.
"I adapted to it very quickly," Wiens told reporters.
"As time went on ... I was able to smell again and breathe through my nose. Every step of the way was amazing."
Surgeons said the transplant was not able to restore his sight, and some nerves were so badly damaged from his injury that he will probably have only partial sensation on his left cheek and the left side of his forehead.
The first thing Wiens' nose was able to detect after months of having no smell was - hospital lasagne.
"You wouldn't imagine it, but it smelled delicious," Wiens said.
Plastic surgeon Bohdan Pomahac, who performed the operation on Wiens, said the transplant's results were better than he expected.
"The most fun part is to see the next six to nine months when the function will start to come back and when Dallas will start to feel a light touch on his face," Pomahac said. "To me, that's really exciting."
In an Associated Press story last year, Wiens spoke poignantly about why he wanted a transplant and how he wanted to smile again and feel kisses from his 4-year-old daughter, Scarlette.
Face transplants give horribly disfigured people hope of an option other than "looking in the mirror and hating what they see," he said.
He told the AP that his daughter and his faith have kept him motivated.
The surgery was paid for by the Department of Defence, which gave the hospital a 3.4 million US Dollars research grant for five transplants.
About a dozen face transplants have been done worldwide, in the US, France, Spain and China. AP