Jaw Surgery: 1 Year On

Monday, 13 February 2017

So around about this time last year I was sat in a hospital room, alone, scrolling through my phone, counting minutes as I waited for the surgeon to come by but also slightly hoping he wouldn't. I'd had a hurried goodbye with my mum and Matt and I was scared. Eventually, after around 4-5 hours of waiting I was being wheeled into surgery.

Two selfies of me

It's been a year since then, a year since I had my underbite fixed and cheekbone and chin implants. I did updates for the first eight weeks which are linked below. But I thought I'd tell you a little bit about what has happened since then. 

Jaw Surgery: | Two Weeks | Four Weeks | Six Weeks | Eight Weeks |

In my eight week update, I'd said I could only open my mouth a fingers width which thankfully, I've fixed through exercise. Because the jaw was stiff from not moving, I had to stretch it by putting what were essentially lollipop sticks in my mouth and adding one each day until I reached the target goal of 18. It was very painful and very messy (lots of saliva). But I got there and now I think the stretch is back to what a normal person's is. 

After this, as my jaw continued to heal, there was a lot of cracking when I opened my mouth which was obviously a little disconcerting. I asked my surgeon about this later on and apparently this was completely normal. As well as that, there was and still remains lumps where my jaw healed together. I'm not sure if this will go away at all, and whilst it's a little sensitive to touch, it doesn't hurt and you can't see them.

As for the numbness, pretty much all the feeling has come back with the exception of the middle of my chin and gum. I think I have a little of it back but it definitely feels different to the rest of my jaw. Cold things don't feel quite so cold and I can't really feel my toothbrush when I brush there. I think I'm quite lucky with that though. It doesn't affect me day-to-day and I barely feel it. 

A picture of my face in profile before the jaw surgery and after

I also had my braces off in the year that's gone by which has been just one of the best things. I didn't mind my braces when I had them, but now they've gone, I would despise having them back on. It's such a feeling of freedom, not having to worry if you've got half your meal stuck in them, not having them digging into your lips. It was surreal when they were off. My teeth felt bizarre; my orthodontist described the feeling as having "marshmallow" teeth which was completely accurate. Also for the first week or so, I felt like my teeth were huge but that does go away and now I'm so happy with my teeth.

If you are about to go through a jaw surgery, I want to say that it will be okay. I was absolutely terrified, especially because it was my face. I was constantly thinking about if it went wrong. But you're in the hands of incredibly experienced surgeons who know what they're doing!  It is scary, I know that. 

I thought I'd give you some tips to get you through the whole experience:

  • Ask your surgeon as many questions as possible. Literally everything. No question is too stupid; it's your face after all. Keep a notebook handy for if you think of any outside of your appointments
  • Make a list of things to do whilst recovering from your surgery. I didn't do this and subsequently, I was bored a fair bit. So make a list of things to watch, or read. Keep in mind the fact that you will be tired though and if you were anything like me, you'll be slobbery, so things like drawing might be out of the question because gravity will work it's magic and you'll end up with a saliva covered page.
  • If you don’t already have a blender, get one. If you don’t you’ll be living off Ensures which are good for getting all your nutrients, but very sickly once you’re through the tenth bottle. Learn some soup recipes and water them down a lot to be able to get them through the gaps in your teeth. It is difficult to eat/drink through wires but you’ll get there.
  • If you’re a period-haver, they may stop. Mine did but I also wasn’t on the pill at the time, so it might have been a mix of both. But you’ll lose a lot of weight. I don’t really keep track of my weight but I probably dropped close to a stone so that’ll definitely affect you periods. I didn’t have a period for at least the full six weeks so don’t worry if they stop.  
  • Keep a notebook with you. Obviously my mouth was wired shut so I couldn't say anything, so a notebook was a godsend during this time.
  • Download a text-to-speech app. I downloaded a free one and it came in handy when I didn't want to write everything down. Especially when it's comes to friends or family who might struggle to see small handwriting.
  • If you don't feel like you can go back to work, don't. I was told I could go back after two weeks but I work in a coffee shop. It's not the type of job you can get away with not speaking. Also I was massively swollen and was various shades of yellow and so I just didn't feel comfortable going back to work. I had ten weeks off in total, so I didn't go back even when I could speak because it was taking me nearly an hour to only eat a meal, where at work I only get a twenty minute break. So really, don't go back to work. Let your body heal, and rest. Do what's good for you. 

If you have any questions that you want to answer, comment below.

Thanks for reading!

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