In what is sure to be one of their most striking covers to date, the famous men's magazine GQ has decided to put Richard Lee Norris, a man who underwent a face transplant, on their cover.

Normally magazine covers are the home of movie stars and fitness models, but Richard Lee Norris will be the man whose face is on GQ this month, and it's not just any face. At age 22, Norris accidentally shot himself with a shotgun, and he was permanently disfigured by the incident, having lost his nose, cheekbones, lips, tongue, teeth, jaw and chin. 

According to the piece on him in the magazine, Norris spent much of his life after the accident repulsed by his own physical appearance, wearing a black mask when he went outdoors and covering all the mirrors in his home so that he didn't have to look at his face. 

However, when searching the internet he came across the name of Eduardo Rodriguez, a reconstructive surgeon who said he could help, and bit by bit he made some adjustments using Richard's own body parts, making a new nose or fashioning a new chin. But it wasn't the same, and he had something bigger in mind: a full transplant. 

Pic via Newstalk/University of Maryland Medical Center

The full story which will feature in this month's GQ and is available on their website is extraordinary and well worth a read, but eventually a face from a donor was found, and the controversial surgery went ahead. It was elective surgery that carried huge risk (nearly a 50% chance that Richard could die) but it has been a success and he says he is amazed by the gift that Joshua Aversano, the 21-year-old who was struck by a minivan crossing the street, has given him. 

All in all, the operation was a 36-hour, non-stop endeavour by Rodriguez and his team that included transplantation of the teeth, upper and lower jaw, a portion of the tongue and all of the tissue from the scalp to the base of the neck, which makes it one of the most ambitious and perhaps the most extensive ever undertaken. 

To read the full story of Richard Norris, and Eduardo Rodriguez (who is now the chair of plastic surgery at NYU as a result) then get your hands on a copy of GQ this month

Via GQ, Newstalk and The Daily Mail