Rotorua's Clifford Llewell used to be a bit of a celebrity around town - known as 'the faceless man' - but now people don't give him a sideways glance.

And it's all thanks to his new face.

The 76-year-old has no teeth or nose, his upper lip had gone along with his upper jaw after having a large tumour around his nose and upper jaw removed.

The cancer, nasomaxillary carcinoma, spread too deep for any further surgical removal and it is not known how much longer Clifford has left.


But the softly-spoken pensioner counts himself as one of the lucky ones and now, thanks to a highly skilled technician, he has a brand new face and teeth.

The surgical and technical teams, technically known as maxillofacial, at Waikato Hospital have been working together to rebuild his face and because Clifford went through the public system his treatment was fully government funded.

Clifford Llewell is rapt to be able to go out in public and not be noticed. PHOTO/BEN FRASER
Clifford Llewell is rapt to be able to go out in public and not be noticed. PHOTO/BEN FRASER

It means Clifford will be able to live out his last days comfortably without having to hide his face in public.

On Monday Clifford was given his new face to try out and on Thursday he went on his first outing with the realistic mask.

"I went down to Bunnings Warehouse and nobody recognised me, normally I have people ask me all sorts of things," he laughed.

His son Steve Llewell said people normally called his father "the faceless man".

Clifford said his maxillofacial clinical technician, Mike Williams, and the rest of the team had done a great job.

"They have saved my life by doing what they have done. When I first went in I had a team of about 25 all looking at me and when I got my face they were all there to see me again."

He said they had also given him upper teeth and his lower teeth would arrive next week.

"I have to learn to eat again . . . a burger will be good.

"I'm feeling really rapt, it's been a long road for Steve as well."

Steve said he and his dad had undertaken more than 70 trips to Waikato Hospital since they started the journey.

"We are a simple lot and we take life as it comes. Dad was on death's doorstep and we have let Waikato [Hospital] take the lead. We have had some incredible fun and learning and it's been very tiring. I'm knackered."

He said the whole family was grateful to have Clifford looking as good as he did.

"It's just incredible. The road hasn't ended either but it's come to a point where dad can feel comfortable. He's not a celebrity anymore," Steve smiled.

Mr Williams said the whole team was really pleased.

"I'm stoked we got it sorted for Cliff and that he looks as good as he does. Every man and his dog was here to watch so I thought 'oh crikey there's not a lot of pressure!'

"He looks presentable, no one will take a second glance. Hopefully we don't see too many other patients like him but if we do then we know what we can do," Mr Williams said.