Day 8: The $50,000 Plastic Surgery

  • Pain: 3/10
  • Inconvenience: 7/10

I *dare* you to not fall in love with that perfect smile!

Today was my first post-op appointment with my surgeon and I learned a lot of very cool stuff. To that end, today’s update will be less about my apparently humorous pain and more about the facts.

Important things first: they removed my elastics for a glorious 30 minutes, so I was able to take an honest look inside my mouth. I have a splint (or guard) that is wired to the braces on my top teeth. It completely envelops my top teeth and stretches right to the back of my mouth. It also has a bite imprint on its underside for my bottom teeth to fit into. My bottom teeth, on the other hand, are exposed, nay, free!

What was the greatest thing about having those elastics snapped off, you ask, as your curiosity peaks. (Yes, I’m forcing interest on you.) I got to brush my teeth! ALL OF THEM! For 30 minutes straight! I was also able to drink from a cup once I could open my mouth. I could open and close my jaw, and move it side to side, and breathe easy again. My friends, I could have stood there and brushed and gurgled all freaking day. I also had something really sharp inside my mouth–I think it was a stitch I accidentally tore off with my tongue–and I was finally able to get it out.

They took some x-rays of my now-aligned jaw and I was able to see the 6 titanium plates in my face: 4 on the top and 2 on the bottom. I also learned that my jaw was not the only part of my face that was fixed. My surgeon also trimmed my septum and had to rebuild my entire nose as a result. This was nice, because I broke my nose several years ago (a girl punched me in the face, I reset it myself in the backwoods somewhere in the Rocky Mountains… it’s a long story), and I never had it fixed. Now it’s straight again! He also told me he had to move several nerves around and altered things right up to my eye sockets. Apparently a surgery of this same caliber, but for purely cosmetic reasons, would cost upwards of $50,000. I’m glad I had medical reasons for my procedure.

The question about having some of my surgery covered was posed as well, only to be answered by the simple fact that it was. My surgeon did not even bill me for the parts covered by Alberta Health Care: the hospital stay, the operating theater time, the anesthesiologist and all the nurses. The government kindly paid for $3300 of my operation, bless their hearts.

My appointment ended in a drastic way. My surgeon rehired my elastics–gave them their old job back like there was nothing to it. And now I cannot even drink through a straw again. *sigh* My reawakening was over just as quickly as it had begun. On the bright side, he told me I was healing “better than expected” and was quite surprised I had not bruised much. I’ve also finished all my meds and at my appointment next week, they’re going to teach me to take my elastics on and off by myself so I can begin removing them to eat. According to my surgeon:

“You’ll finally feel like a man again, Graham.”

Here are my new timelines:

  • Strictly liquid diet for 7 more weeks
  • Splint for 7 more weeks
  • Heatpacks for 1 more week
  • Swelling should be gone in 1 more week
  • Numbness should resolve from my eyes down to my upper lip over the next month
  • Numbness from my lower lip down to my chin may stick around for 3-6 months

That sums up my first appointment! I can’t wait to be able to remove the elastics myself after my next one! When I arrived back home, at 1:00 this afternoon, I was in a lot of pain because the joints that bring the top and bottom jaw together were really sore from opening and closing my mouth at the appointment. It felt like I had growing pains all over again. I took some codeine, grabbed a hotpack, laid down for a “nap” and woke up 7 hours later, hence the untimeliness of today’s update. The worst part of that 7-hour nap is that all I’ve eaten today so far is half of a smoothie. Time for some cream of mushroom soup, methinks. Mmm, mmm, good.

21 Comments

  1. I can??t actually aid but admire your weblog web site, your web site is adorable and nice

  2. just a couple of hours and you’ll be here! 😉 thanks

  3. My bi-jaw chirurgie will be 16 april 2013 in Québec, i’m frenchspeaking quebecor “pur laine!
    I’m verry anxious and you give me the little smile to push my moral up and low my axiety
    You’re 50 0000000 millons smile make me feel good and i laught very many time when a read your story !! son mayby i’ll be prudent after the 16 april to visit your blog!!! don’T what to smile to many time lolll
    my different cream of soup and potage liquid in blendrer are allerady done today!

    • Geneviève, I wish you the best of luck on April 16! Also, you have a very beautiful province (and I hope to visit again one day). Cheers!

  4. You’re not the only one, Rebecca. I, like you, was on a liquid diet for a full seven weeks. It’s certainly not a fun experience, but it’s only temporary, so life will pick up afterwards. =)

  5. Thanks! That makes me feel better. It’s definitely a strange sensation to attempt to move your jaw when it’s in a completely new position.

    I’m beginning to think my surgeon is just super cautious, which I’m okay with. It just sucks reading other blogs from people who only had a two week liquid diet. I have seven weeks with a liquid diet and then a minimum of two with a soft food diet. All I want is steak! Haha.

    I also have to go back to work soon, and as a supervisor, I’m not exactly looking forward to talking to angry guests with all the rubber bands in my mouth. Hopefully it won’t be too bad.

  6. Hi Rebecca,

    That’s crazy that you were actually wired shut! I haven’t heard of that happening since my father had the same surgery over two decades ago! It sounds like you’re in a better place now, so that’s great to hear.

    When you finally take the rubber bands off, the only thing you’ll need to be careful of is the fact that your teeth may touch in the front at first. It’s an interesting feeling, but you’ll quickly learn how your jaws feel in the correct place and then you’ll have nothing to worry about.

    Just be careful with your chewing and talking at first so you don’t bite your tongue or bang your teeth together in the front. Most of this comes quite naturally, so you really shouldn’t have to even think about it. =)

  7. Hey Graham,

    I’m a little over three weeks into my recovery. Your website has been really helpful. My recovery has been quite a bit different than yours. I had my mouth wired shut with the splint for three weeks. A few days ago they cut off my wires and took out the splint. Brushing was one of the strangest experiences of my life. I could barely open my mouth! I now have rubber bands, but not just four, I have about 12!

    I was wondering what is was like for you when you were able to take off the elastics. I still have four weeks with them on, but it worries me to think about what it’ll feel like to finally have them off.

  8. Eight days into it… awesome!

    They didn’t wire me shut, no. I had 4 bands in as well, but they were tight enough that I was unable to open my mouth without removing them. Sounds very similar to your situation.

    As for chewing soft foods, I don’t want to lead you in any direction here. You should call your surgeon and quickly ask them what they think. They’ll most likely tell you to try it out while being as careful as possible. =)

  9. Hey Graham, I am now 8 days into recovery. I had some more questions for you. So did they wire your jaw shut completely? All they did for mine was put 4 rubber bands going from top to bottom for me just like they do for standard braces. Now I just put 1 on each side and I take them out to eat (drink) and brush my teeth. When I take them off I am able to move in a chewing motion with Zero pain and discomfort. I just had jello and it is awkward to chew it but I have no problem with it, just trying to retrain myself to chew. Do you think think its okay to experiment with soft chewable foods, some soft olives maybe, cant really think about any others on the top of my head but did you start experimenting and chewing as soon as you were able?

  10. Thanks i have about 5 weeks left hope they go by fast I want some pizza lol.. Thanks for reasponding.

  11. Hi Leigha,

    Having your mouth wired shut is certainly frustrating. I didn’t have mine wired shut per se, but I had extremely tight elastics on so I was still unable to part my teeth.

    Your surgeon may allow you to start opening your mouth a bit once a few weeks have gone by, but you’ll likely be restricted to a liquid diet for the first 6 weeks.

    It sounds brutal, but you’ll get through it and be back in action soon, my friend! Once your energy returns, you’ll be amazed at how quickly the time flies by. And after that, you’ll be smiling approximately 24 hours per day. =)

  12. Hey
    I just had jaw surgery about a week ago.. Its been really hard i was wondering if you had your mouth wired close? I do and its been super hard 🙁 i have to be like this for 6weeks. Im still a little swollen and i do use the heat about four times a day now. So yea i was just wondering if your mouth was wired close.

  13. I have 2 rubber bands on each side of mouth, so 4 in total. They were fairly rigid so I was unable to open my mouth very wide, but your surgeon will provide you with looser bands as time goes on.

    The bands need to be tight at first so you don’t accidentally spasm and have your entire jaw shift. I never found the bands to be much of a nuisance. I actually appreciated them because they do a lot of the work for you!

  14. How many rubber-bands did you have in your mouth at this time? My surgeon tells me I should just need two rubber-bands (one on each side) after my double jaw surgery, but I’m betting they’ll be extremely stiff. Just wondering if you had the same thing. Thanks.

  15. My mouth was more or less held closed (with elastic bands) for 2 weeks, but I couldn’t talk well for about 7 weeks.

    I’m a programmer, so I don’t have to talk to very many people at work each day, so I only took 2 weeks off.

    If you have to speak with people directly, I’d take at least a month off.

    Also, ask your surgeon if you’ll be receiving a splint. It’s usually wired into your top teeth to keep your upper palette expanded right after surgery. It’s difficult to speak with the splint for about a month.

  16. My surgeon tells me that my entire midline is shifting to the right. So after I get my jaw done he says that my nose will be off center and will need to be repositioned. He is a very good DR and I trust him but is it more of him being a perfectionist or is my nose going to be totally noticeable. Just worried that I am doing more than needs to be done. How long did you have your mouth shut and when were you able to open it and talk. Just wondering how much time I should take off work since I work at a hotel and have to talk to people directly. Thanks

  17. Hi Bridgette,

    Your nose should end up being perfectly straight. The reason my nose doesn’t look straight to me (despite my family and friends saying it looks like it should) is because the surgeon lines it up based on certain points on your face, so if your face isn’t perfectly symmetrical, it may look off.

    In the end, you’ll likely be the only person that will notice any imperfections as a result of surgery. Nobody has even noticed my nose being off unless I point it out to them, and a healthy number of people still think it looks straight.

  18. Hey there,
    I am due to have double jaw surgery this spring. My surgeon also said that I will have to have nose surgery to position that back to the center of my face. How off center is it going to be and is it really necessary? Should I just wait and decide or just do it? Just wondering your thoughts.

  19. Hey Judy!

    My surgeon told me I’m going to have cheeks when I’m done as well, which is odd, cuz I wasn’t aware I *didn’t* have cheeks before. 😮

    I’ve now lost 24 pounds. We’ll see how you fare.

    Eating is becoming easier as well. I can power through 2 cans of soup per meal now!

  20. your swelling has really gone down! i wonder if my surgeon could throw in a nose job while he’s at it…and maybe a couple of little nips and tucks too! LOL! so you should have a good idea of your facial changes by this time next week. i am looking forward to the filling out of my mid-face area that looks sunken in my profile. of all of the hundreds of double jaw surgery pictures i have looked at, that is the most dramatic difference in everyone. the bonus of a well articulating bite will be pretty sweet too. so how much weight have you lost now? i just like to keep telling your aunt shelley my potential weight loss because it drives her crazy, haha.
    keep healing up graham!
    judy

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