Cameron Underwood says he doesn’t get as many “stares or questions from strangers” since his face transplant.
“I have a nose, and a mouth so I’m able to smile, to speak and eat solid foods again,” he says.
Cameron was speaking two years after shooting himself in a suicide attempt in 2016.
He lost his nose, most of his lower jaw and all but one of his teeth in the incident.
“I am so grateful to have a face transplant because it gives me a second chance at life,” the 26-year-old said at a press conference in New York on Thursday.
“I have been able to get back to many of the activities I love, like being outdoors, playing sports and spending time with my friends and family.
“I hope to get back to work soon and someday to start a family.”
In January this year, more than 100 medical staff performed a 25-hour surgery on Cameron at the NYU Langone Health centre in Manhattan, New York, and his recovery was revealed this week.
The operation took place just 18 months after Cameron’s suicide attempt – which the centre says is the shortest period of time between injury and surgery in US history.
Since the first face transplant in 2005, more than 40 have been performed worldwide.
The surgery was led by Dr Eduardo D. Rodriguez who says, along with medical advances, it was Cameron’s determination to survive that helped make the surgery a success.
“In the end, it’s all about the patient. Cameron has put in the work and has made the necessary commitments,” he says.