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.

32 Comments

  1. Hi Graham,

    I am currently on day 8 of recovery and I am starting to experience clicking noises on the upper jaw along with some aching pain on both sides. Is this normal? I am freaking out because my surgeon told me if something goes wrong I would have to go back into surgery. I am currently not taking any pain medication I haven’t been taking any pain medications since day 1 of recovery. If you could explain and put my mind at rest that would be awesome!

    Thanks,
    Tim.

  2. Hola Graham. Tis my 8th day post op and I just had a quick question. I’m the weirdo who so openly spoke of my poop schedule last week. Was a bit more loopy then than I am now so forgive me lol.

    Was just curious, how long were you on your pain medication? My mother, being the caring lady that she is, doesn’t want me to turn into a “basehead”, and I understand her concerns. However, it still really ****ing hurts at times. Which makes sense IMO since its only been a freakin week since the double jaw surg/genioplasty. She’s not trying to pressure me or anything, she just drops reminders every now and then that “You know people get hooked on this stuff” like I’m just potentially 10 ml away from pumpin my veins with the good stuff.

    I haven’t seen any articles or people really talking about how long they were using the pain medication. But for me, it’s really tough to deal with this pain. Mouth pain has always been tough for me to deal with, and this is obviously unlike anything I’ve dealt with. Not to mention that I feel like the 10 ml is just adequate for someone my size(fairly built at 6’0 230. well 230 when i started. 220 now). I’m just not exactly too eager to let go until I’m sure I can manage without it.

    I’m gonna definitely ask my surgeon at my apt…today or tomorrow. Just seein how it worked out for you in regards to dealing with the pain. Thanks man.

  3. Hiya again ^-^ just got my Damon’s on 7 hours ago… Expected much more pain.. Guess i was used to normal braces. I really hope these will work out for me since i really don’t want surgery. People go all like omg when i tell them I’ve had 5 braces especially if they know that I’m 13 XD truth is I’ve had 5 braces but didn’t keep them for long.. About one year each since they made it worst usually.. Damon’s really feel differently.. They don’t hurt my mouth that bad and not having the wire tightened is really and advantage.. My teeth just started to feel a little sour and just my upper left canine reslly hurts since that’s basically my only not so straight tooth.. I relly feel like this ones will work 😀

    • Anna, I hope this is your final set of braces. I think I also had Damon braces and they were quite easy to take care of. Best of luck this time!

  4. Hi! I’ve been reading through your website for a while. Just a few days ago my orthodontist told me the only way to fix my overbite would be double jaw surgery or healthy teeth extractions. That kind of scared me though. I’ve been through 5 braces until now and monday i’ll get the 6th pair of braces put on (yayy) This time i’ll try Damon braces. My orthodontist told me about them and also told me they might fix my overbite at least a little. Since he didn’t work with Damon braces he sent me to another orthodontist. 18 more months of braces to find out if surgery is really thw only way to fix this 😀 (if it is I’m really scared of it)

    • Anna, it sounds like you’re a veteran when it comes to braces, wow! I hope you’re able to have the surgery and fix your bite once and for all. =)

  5. Hi there!
    I’m on day 8 on my post op double jaw surgery, I had an openbite that developed over the years, so over the years I had bad memories with my mouth, there was one week where my jaw was locked and I couldn’t talk. I know everybody has those dreams about there jaws, last night I had one, and it was me biting down, I woke up scared and panic and with a big ache on one of my side jaw, I didn’t really sleep the rest of the night. What do you do on those moments of fright?? It’s been 8 days and I’m my swelling is going down, I can kind of move my lips, smile a bit etc, but my face is so tingling, I guess that’s normal, but my jaw does ache tremendously. Is that normal? Btw I haven’t been sleeping well, I just hope I don’t have a dream like that for a few days. Your recovery seems so simple, I still can’t swallow properly so it’s hard to drink anything especially since I’m on liquified diet.

    • Melissa, I was still unable to eat solid foods, speak, and sleep through the night on the eighth day, so what you’re experiencing is normal. To aid in soothing your jaw and sleeping through the night, try applying a hot pack to your face when you lay down to sleep. As far as frightening dreams go, I never experienced this, but I imagine it’s directly related to worry, so if you’re able to begin thinking positively and believing that you will heal up and be able to resume regular life soon, these may just go away. =)

  6. Thank you making this page , it’s helped me a lot . I am at this day today. I ratr this day a tad more painful ! Lol. Thanks again graham .

  7. Wow it’s super impressive that almost four years later you have still kept up with the comments! I found your blog and it’s been beyond helpful. Thanks for sharing your journey! You were so upbeat and looked on the positive side of things throughout your experience that it made me feel silly for getting so upset about not being able to eat and my appearance! I also feel like I’m going crazy from not being able to actually open my mouth, but I guess in the grand scheme of things this is only a very small period of time and it shall pass 🙂 I’m currently 8 days post op after double jaw surgery in Nova Scotia, but didn’t need a splint so that’s nice! Make it easier to jam some softer type foods in my belly. I was not told that I could use heat as a way to reduce swelling but they didn’t say that I COULDN’T. Everyone else seems to be using heat as well, I may take a trip to shoppers and grab myself a heat pack! I cannot wait to eat solid foods again, this liquid diet is no way to live.

    • Hailey, I’m glad my happy posts are causing you to view the glass as being half full, hehe. Make sure you embrace the heat pack. I honestly slept with heat on my face for the entire first month. Best of luck and I promise you’ll be back to enjoying tasty meals again soon! =)

  8. hey man! Imagine I’ve read a lot in here months and months before my surgery, so I was psychologically prepared for the up-hill battle. your ‘step by step’ explanation helps incredibly. Im in my 8th day now, and you cant imagine how much the surgery changed me. they straightened my nose and made it symmetrical, and fixed my chin as well. and I dunno wat to feel when I look at the mirror lol even tho Im swollen. lookin forward to upload soon on youtube if God wills.
    you rock man! Im really tryin my best to cope with it.
    wish you the best of luck in life

    • Ferrović, I’m glad my story has helped you out. Enjoy your recovery as best you can and you’ll be back in action soon! =)

  9. Okay awesome thanks. I’m looking into it right now. I also live in Edmonton and am in desperate need of jaw surgery but neglected to get it done because I was under the impression it would cost 30 k and upwards.. :O yikes

  10. Hey Graham what is the name of the hospital that you had this surgery done at?

    • Alyssa, I had my surgery at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. I had no preference as to which hospital to use; it was merely the hospital my surgeon chose to operate at.

  11. Well mankind appreciates it. LOL!

  12. Just wanted to add that I think it’s fun that you’ve continued to respond to questions 3 years later. Not sure that I really noted the year really when I started reading. It really is very helpful. My daughter knew several girls who had their surgery just a few months before her, so we had lots of questions. I guess at some point you will get too busy to keep this up..but THANKS!!

  13. Great info. Wish I’d seen this sooner. My 17 year old daughter had double jaw surgery on 22 Aug. She is doing very well. Most numbness is gone. She couldn’t chew for 6 weeks but found ways to cut her food really small and always had gravy or sauce. Worked quite well. She only lost 10 pounds. She drank at least 2 protein drinks each day too and only missed the first 4 days of her senior year. She’s looking forward to playing basketball soon. She’s already back to working out but no real contact yet. Thanks

  14. Just stopped by to let you know how incredible your blog has been for me. Besides the many pre-op laughs my kids and I enjoyed, it has been a huge help knowing that someone else has been through this and survived, not to mention the good reminder of keeping things light and moving along one day at a time. Day four post-op here for double jaw surgery and feeling really positive thanks to you.

    • Nadine, I’m happy my writing has provided both smiles and comfort for you and the family. You’re a tough lady taking on this surgery with children! Stay strong and appreciate the progress each day. =)

  15. Thanks! Tomorrow is my surgery and I’m so nervous. I’m afraid I will look really different.. In a bad way. Did you think you looked a lot different? Better? Or worse?

  16. Thanks! Do you think correcting an overbite will be as extensive as your underbite surgery or about the same?

    • Allie, the top jaw is the most invasive part of the procedure because they generally have to work on the width of your upper palette as well as your nose, so I would plan for a similar recovery to my own. That way, if you sail through the recovery more quickly than myself (as most people do), that will just be a bonus!

  17. Hi graham! I’m having the double jaw surgery in a few days but not to the extent that you had done because I’m only on a liquid diet for a week. I start school 3 weeks later. Do you think the swelling will be significantly down where people don’t notice?

    • Allie, people will likely notice you’re swollen at only 3 weeks into recovery, but you may be able to communicate enough to get by at that point. Just keep in mind that you may have a lopsided face for the first few weeks of school. You’ll be fully recovered before the semester ends, though, so all should be well. =)

  18. Day 8 post-op today. I am drinking from a cup and using a straw for some drinks. I have pretty much stopped taking the pain meds and switched to extra strength ibuphren. My entire face is pins and needles with small twinges occasionally which is more uncomfortable then painful. My nose is still plugged with blood which is just annoying! I have 4 elastics, 2 on either side, no splint and my lower lip is still numb. my first post-op appt with my surgeon is this coming Monday, I am hoping he will let me brush my teeth and stretch my mouth. Oh, and another bonus the surgeon didn’t have to do anything with my chin!

  19. Today, I go walking the dog ( who’s don’t understand me) and the sunshine do his job, you’re my inspiration, really 🙂 stay positive and i’ll be more easier ! Thanks

    And thursday i’ll go to see a music show ” les trois accords” with my two kids !! I’m in first place, i hope the group of music dont be affraid of my freaky smile!!!

  20. Hi Graham 🙂 i’m the frenchspeaking pure laine who has surgery 16 april in province of Québec .. Well it was hard more than i expected! The breathing and swallowing of the 5 first day was a nightmare and my tongue was enourmous so made me this simple actions very very difficult!! I’m day 7 and read you in night with my bestfriends hot pack and codéine ! But i begin to feel much better … I think to your advice so many times the first day on my hospital bed: don’t forget it’s temporary situation!!! And thats help me very good to keept me ont the right mind!!! I regret so many many times my surgery the first 5 days but now i begin to see the light 😉 thanks you for your bible’s surgery !!

    • Geneviève, the first few days are really tough, aren’t they? Maintain that positive mindset, though, and life will start getting better very soon. The beginning of the third week is when you should notice things getting a bit easier. =)

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