Day 23: 6 Reasons I Got Jaw Surgery

  • Pain: 1/10
  • Inconvenience: 5/10

No, no, I’m not going to end it all. That knife is there to represent all the vegetables I’ll be chopping for all the salad I’m going to be eating soon. It’s going to be so satisfying to crunch through a piece of celery. Perhaps this photo would fit better with the day I finally cracked.

So I arrived home last night at around 6:30 pm. Dinner time. I could smell the most delicious burgers ever as soon as I stepped out of my car. As soon as I stepped into my room, I realized I had to do laundry, so I hauled my stylish clothes up to the landing to throw them in the washing machine. My upstairs neighbors heard me, so they opened the door to say hi and ask how I was doing. I told them about the burgers I could smell and, lo and behold, those very burgers were sitting on a plate in their kitchen! They sent me back downstairs with not only a delicious sirloin burger, but also some tzatziki sauce to baste it in, a plate of grilled asparagus and 3 pieces of leftover ice cream cake from their son’s birthday party a few days earlier! I blended them all up, separately this time, with a little milk in each and some butter in with the asparagus. It was the best meal I’ve had so far! I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m full, but I’m definitely not starving. I will, however, admit that I have the best neighbors a boy could ask for. By the way, I lied a few statements back. I’m not stylish at all.

In order: prune juice, ice cream cake, asparagus and butter, and sirloin burger.

Random interjection: I received 2 emails asking if I would like to reset my password yesterday–1 for my email and 1 for this blog. The question is: who is trying to sniff my passwords out there? You sly dog…

I’ve been talking about some of the torturous things I’ve had to sit and watch people eat over the past few weeks, but yesterday was one of the worst. One of the ladies I work with brought some Indian food into work to let everyone have a taste. I’m okay with that. I’m not okay with the way that 3 bowls of the stuff found their way to my desk. Have you ever tried to shut down your sense of smell? You can’t. I was able to tough my way through watching everyone come by and sample the fancy dishes, only to end with a guy asking me if I wanted to join a bunch of the team at a going-away dinner for one of our employees. “Oh, nevermind, you can’t eat. I forgot.” Yes, yes you did.

Due to the countless people asking me why I elected to have this surgery performed on me, I’ve decided to post the 6 reasons leading up to my decision. It seems that most people feel that I underwent the operation purely out of vanity, but it was much more than that.

  1. I had a desire to chew with all of my teeth, as opposed to only using my very back molars
  2. I was tired of my slight lisp
  3. I wasn’t a fan of spitting every time I said anything
  4. I didn’t enjoy always having my mouth hanging open
  5. I was keen on breathing through my nose
  6. I didn’t like the look of my side profile

If you want a lengthier description regarding any of those points, you can read more about them at my Reasons for Getting Jaw Surgery page.

By the way, the “putty” that was used to fill in the gaps where bone was removed from my jaw was actually cadaver bone. Read that one more time: bone fragments from corpses are in my face. Lovely, isn’t it?

24 Comments

  1. Chaitanya Karnik

    June 3, 2016 at 5:12 am

    Dear Graham,

    Many Thanks for your reply the other day; we were on Day 16 then. Your advice definitely helped, especially the bit wherein you asked me to rest my jaws and talk less. This has brought the swelling under control.
    In between I had a follow up appointment with my surgeon and he seemed to be very happy with the healing that is going on. Although I have been asked to stick to the same semi-solid diet for 45 days more, considering today is Day 23, so that is still some way to go.
    Now looking at my facial profile, I have been getting quiet a few positive reactions from friends, family and colleagues. My colleagues who initially remarked that my face resembles a bull frog because of the swelling post my surgery mentioned that my face now looks much better than the way it looked before surgery.
    Though it is too early to comment and the complete results are way down the road, since my braces and orthodontics are also going to take a while, still I am happy with the way my face is shaping up.
    Anyways, waiting to reach the 90 Day mark which you have mentioned.

    Thanks again.
    Cheers!! 🙂

    • Chaitanya, so happy to hear that you’re feeling better about your appearance! It is very common for people to be fearful of their post-op appearance, but the important thing to remember is that swelling completely masks the actual shape of your face. Looking forward to you being fully recovered!

  2. At day 23 now; my splint came off a couple days ago. Since then the two front teeth on my bottom have gotten a bit touchy-feely with each other and one is sliding behind the other. I e-mailed my surgeon and he said it’s to be expected… (rather than widen my top jaw, he split my bottom jaw in half and made it narrower in addition to lengthening it and cutting out a small slice of my top jaw like yours)

    I can’t see any stitches any more–which is nice because they were really creepy and gross looking–especially the big one that hung down right in the middle of my top lip. That one fell off a couple days ago, so now all the ones I could see are gone, though I suppose I still may have some floating around in there.

    I find it a little difficult to talk yet, and I still can’t seem to open enough to fit a spoon in my mouth, so I’m still drinking my meals :p The rubber bands are a pain, but I dealt with them my first round of braces a decade ago, so they aren’t unfamiliar at least, and I still seem to have the dexterity to put them on without much trouble.

    My braces are cutting up my mouth too, but more in the far back on either side than in the front. I assume it’s because everything moved and the splint acted like a buffer for the first few weeks so now everything’s trying to get used to all the sharp metaly bits again. :p

    Also I still can’t physically open my mouth wide enough to use utensils or even to comfortably brush the chewing surfaces and backs of my teeth…. *sigh* I woke up with some super terrible taste in my mouth that makes me think some tomato soup escaped my brushing/rinsing last night.

  3. Dear Graham,
    So I just had my lower jaw moved forward 10mm because it was making my migraines worse, I’m currently able to eat anything that I can swallow without chewing (although I cheat sometimes) I’m at the 23 day mark and my swelling is nearly completely gone it doesn’t hurt at all anymore but what I’m wondering is when will I be able to open my mouth all the way again I can only open it as wide as like one finger which really hinders my food intake. Granted I am no where near where you were at this point. But your surgery was much more extensive than mine.

    Thanks for posting this blog it has really helped me on my road to recovery.

    Thanks again,
    Kyle

    • Kyle, I wasn’t able to open my mouth as wide as before surgery until 3–4 months into recovery, but you’ll likely arrive at that point sooner by the sounds of it. I would encourage you to start chewing gum and whistling as soon as you’re able. Chewing gum is a great exercise for your jaw and whistling will help break up scar tissue. I would guess you’ll have most of your movement back within the next 4–6 weeks. =)

  4. Chelsea Semple

    May 12, 2013 at 3:27 am

    I wish vanity could be my reason because that way I wouldn’t HAVE to get it at this age. I have to get the surgery because I have arthritis in my jaw, it’s shifted 8mm from where it is supposed to be, I have a large overbite, and if I don’t get the surgery very soon, my jaw could become perminately locked 🙁 oh and by the way I’m also from Edmonton!! 🙂

  5. Hi, just wanted to thank you for your blog. It was the first one I stumbled across months before I had my surgery, and am always drawn back to it. I am 23 days post op now and happy that the surgery went well. I am able to drink normally as the numbness is minimal, and eating soft foods. I thought my recovery was going well but over the last couple of days my swelling has increased in my face and it is really tender to touch and when I talk or eat. Do you recall any such changes? I am going on holiday in 23 days and concerned now. Any advice greatful

    • Joanne, you’ll notice a direct link between your swelling and the amount you chew and talk for the next 5–6 weeks. You’re still getting better each day, and if your swelling is increasing, it’s because you’re being more active, which is a good thing! =)

  6. Hi, I was wondering if at any point in the process, you ever regretted having the surgery? I’m currently 22 days post-op and I don’t like the results so far. I know a lot will still change in the months to come but I feel kind of depressed right now. The swelling has begun to decline, but my lower lip and my chin are still numb. I don’t like my “smile”, my nose is still crooked and my molars don’t touch each other anymore. I’m starting to think I liked my old face better. Including my poor occlusion and lack of chin. At least I kneew my old face.

    • Sonia, there were certainly times when I was frustrated with the recovery process, but I never let that dampen my excitement for the final product. Understand that the recovery is merely temporary, but the results will last for the rest of your life. Also, at only 22 days post-op, you have a lot of healing left to do, so you’ll look quite different when all is said and done. Have patience, my friend. It will be worth it!

  7. Hey, Graham. I’ve been reading your blog since I was about 5 days post-op and it has been quite amusing. I’m 17 years old and I underwent double jaw surgery, a genioplasty (for a receding chin), and the extraction of two wisdom teeth on June 27th, 2012. I’m now 23 days post-op. I am tightly wired together and will be for another 4 days, at which point the wires will be removed and I’ll be left with tight elastics and the dreaded splint and cleared for a no-chew diet. I’ve survived these 3+ weeks on chicken broth, beef broth, protein shakes, root beer floats (melted), and tomato soup (when we can find it without any hint of solid matter). Any foods with even the smallest solid pieces (such as, say, chili seasoning in my watered down tomato soup) will pile up in my cheeks because the surgeon left no gaps anywhere for anything to pass. The only place that pure liquids can pass is through a place in my splint that they had to cut because it didn’t quite fit me. I’m glad someone messed up, because otherwise I’m not sure i could even drink enough water to stay hydrated! I’ve been told I’ll be on a no-chew diet for 2-3 weeks after the wires come off and then cleared for the removal of the splint and I’ll get my TPA put in, but I had one for over 3 years with my braces so I’m not too worried about having another. And then after that I should be able to eat solid food and have about 6 months left in braces! I can’t wait for the end results!

    • Hi Myrandon,

      I understand your frustrations completely. Having food pile up in every nook and cranny in your mouth is incredibly inconvenient, but the problem will go away once your wires come off and the splint is removed.

      You’re almost at 1 month post-op so you’re in good shape, my friend. Good luck!

  8. Delaney, I think you’ll be pleased with the results of the operation once you’re all healed up. It’s best to get it out of the way while you’re still young and you’re body can heal up quickly.

    When are you scheduled for surgery?

  9. I’m having this surgery(possibly only upper jaw though) for an overbite I have the EXACT same reasons, it’s funny that everyone freaks out when I tell them: i just feel like ‘what happens, happens; yes it will be painful, I just want it over with.’ Iv been working up to this since probabley 2008. My doctors have said 2 weeks liquid, no idea how long in the splint.

  10. I had before shots taken at my surgeon’s office, but I haven’t got them yet.

    I have an appointment in 2 days. Perhaps I’ll ask for them then.

    There will definitely be before and after pics when I’m done with this whole ordeal. Those and x-ray shots.

  11. I can’t seem to find before pics, did you ever post any here?

  12. @Mitch: I agree. It still sucks right now, but, like most painful experiences, once they’re over, you realize they were well worth the mess.

    You looked great yesterday. Your entire face changed!

    @Mike: I plan on coming back in a year or 2 and rereading this entire thing myself. I think it’ll be entertaining for me by that time.

    I don’t know how you survive with no Internet at home. I guess I could get used to it eventually. Right now would be tough though, considering I still can’t do much else.

    As for my nose, I’m not entirely sure. That boggles me as well. My surgeon told me he was in right up to my eye sockets during the operation, but I have no external cuts–it was all done through my mouth, amazingly.

    I know they split the roof of my mouth wide open from my lip all the way to the back of my throat to widen it, and I recall him saying they dropped the whole thing right out of my mouth at one point (although they need to leave the nerves and things attached or it will die). I think when they had the roof of my mouth split open, he could go right up into any part of my face through my sinuses and stuff.

    It sounds like it was a bloody mess, anyway. I’m not entirely sure what went on in there. I just know that when I came out, I had a swollen face, a sore butt and it hurt to urinate.

    That sounds like a BAD experience, eh?

  13. Just caught up with your blog. Glad you’re healing, and thanks for sharing your hilarious tales of injectable foodstuffs and drooling. Trust me, these stories will be funny a year from now.

    I kind of want to know how they repositioned your nose by cutting through your mouth. Where did they go, exactly?

    I really need to start blogging again. I don’t have Internet at home and that makes anything Internet related kind of difficult.

  14. Now that your bite is fixed and when that splint is out every time you chew and close your mouth will be another reason you can add to the list. Most people have a proper bite and they take it for granted. I would redo my surgery without question.

  15. Hey Diane!

    That friend of yours told me she pointed you here. 🙂 You should definitely keep a little blog about the first few weeks. It’s always an interesting read!

    You’re in for the ride of your life, let me tell you. However, if you don’t need your top jaw widened like I did, then you won’t need a splint. And that splint is half the battle by itself.

    Let me know of any questions you have when your surgery date gets closer. I’d be glad to fill you in as best I can.

    Who is doing your surgery?

  16. Hey Graham!
    I’m a fellow Edmontonian about to get double jaw surgery (and genioplasty) for an open bite. I’m really glad a friend recommended your blog to me – what a nice feeling that I won’t be going through it alone! My surgery date is May 5, and I might consider keeping a blog of it, also!
    Hope you’re well soon,

    Diane

  17. I hung out with a friend of mine tonight who had jaw surgery back at Christmas. He looks great! Totally healed up and back to normal.

    I. Simply. Cannot. WAIT!

  18. bwaahaaahaa corpse face!!!! oh, that will be me soon. (slinks away)

    but wait! yay for blending food separately, right graham! my FAVORITE HOBBY is eating so trust me!

  19. Your reasons are the same as my reasons, Corpse Face.

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