- Pain: 0/10
- Inconvenience: 1/10
Today marks Day 90 of my recovery. That means my jaw is completely healed, as far as the medical world is concerned. Is my bite perfect? No. Do I still have numbness in my chin? Yes. Has my full range of motion returned? Not yet.
All that’s left now is orthodontic work. The elastics will slowly bring my molars back together and cinch my teeth up to close all the gaps. Feeling should find its way back to my face over the next few months. The mobility of my tongue and lips will return as the scar tissue breaks up.
If you’d like to see my general progress, you can take a look at my x-rays or my 3 month’s worth of mugshots. I have an appointment with my surgeon next week, so I may be posting my before and after photos sometime.
I still have a long way to climb back to the point I was at before. Baby steps are the way to go, though. For instance, I ate my first hamburger and my first chocolate bar in 3 entire months just yesterday. Every single day brings small accomplishments.
I’ve learned more than I ever thought I would from this experience, both undergoing jaw surgery and maintaining a blog about it.
- I learned that patience is one of the primary keys to life. Without it, you’ll end up in the same place, but you’ll be a lot angrier when you get there.
- I learned that time will heal just about anything. And while life seems to fly by at mach speeds, we still have 24 hours each day, and there’s no excuse to waste them.
- I learned that, when you’re completely healthy and able, you take absolutely everything for granted. Next time you sit down for a meal, give yourself more than 10 minutes to enjoy it. Consider the fact that you are indulging in comforts and securities that many people in this world don’t have the opportunity to experience.
- I learned that people are more accepting than we give them credit for. We walk down the streets judging people for what they’re wearing, how they’re holding themselves and what they’re doing. Little do we know that if we just stop to say hi to a stranger, we may find out they’re the kindest, most genuine person we’ve ever met. Stop being afraid of the unknown.
- I learned that committing to something for 90 days takes more effort than I ever thought it would. This blog was easy to maintain for the first few weeks because I was sitting at home with nothing on my plate. However, once I returned to my job, started being social once again and began to have plans, I had to start setting time aside to update this journal.
- I learned that, even if just a single person finds your experience useful, your time is still well worth the trouble.
Was jaw surgery worth it? Absolutely. Even though only 10 of my teeth are currently touching, my bite is still easier to use than it was before. Despite being slightly numb, I’m still able to chew much more effectively than before. I thought I looked like I had buck teeth at first, but now I’m comfortable with them and I like my smile more than before. And now, in what feels like no time at all, I’m back to normal, for the most part. I would recommend jaw surgery to anyone who is not comfortable with their bite or their side profile.
I’ve met people from all over the world through this blog–New York and Boston, Australia, England, Germany and several places in between. I can’t believe how many people out there have been through this same procedure or are on the road to have it performed. I’d like to personally thank each and every one of you for taking this trip with me. I appreciate every single comment that was made. I hope this proved to be a useful resource, and will continue to guide people along in terms of jaw surgery in the future.
I’ll most likely make 2 more posts on this blog: one in the near future to showcase my before and after photos, and another in roughly 6 months to briefly discuss the changes that take place over the next half year.
Once again, I’d like to extend a big thank you to everyone out there for keeping me motivated to complete this project. Right now, I’m off to enjoy a bike ride on this glorious summer day, which is sure to be followed by a cold beer. Cheers, my friends!
March 23, 2016 at 3:04 pm
Thanks for your fabulous blog and congrats on your fabulous smile. I’m posting a comment on this site because my double-jaw surgery went wrong – soul-suckingly wrong. If I had a time machine, I NEVER would have done it. I would have explored every other possible avenue to treat my TMJ and I would have kept my squint face and flat profile.
I’m two YEARS post-op. I can’t feel a third of my face. I’m still in braces. During surgery, the surgeon also damaged the root of one of my teeth, leading to a root canal. One of my other teeth (one of my far molars) developed decay under the band which spread to the root – this tooth needed pulled.
The attempt to straighten my jaw bent my nose. I know . . . I can’t believe it. The surgeon says I need a nose job. My muscles don’t work properly on the numb side of my face and should I smile (which I don’t due to black-holed depression), my face (due to numbness and my facial muscles) cause a squint far greater than it’s even been.
Talking feels horrible. My face feels horrible, every single second I’m awake. I sob all the time.
So that’s it. Double-jaw surgery. For me, it’s a “No” the size of the Hollywood sign.
March 23, 2016 at 9:09 pm
Hi Julia, your story makes me so sad! It’s quite rare that people have to go through multiple surgeries or deal with life-long frustrations as a result of this operation, but like all surgeries, there are certainly risks involved. It’s really unfortunate that you’ve been left with such a large amount of numbness and so many teeth problems. 😟
Do you know if some of this outcome was the fault of your surgeon? I’ve never met anyone who was left with a crooked nose, damaged roots, and such a severe lack of feeling.
I’m not sure what else to say here, but I hope you’re able to cope with the changes. Thanks for sharing your story as well. It’s good to hear sobering accounts such as your own.
March 23, 2016 at 9:45 pm
Some of my dismal outcome was due to the fact that I was age 38 at the time of surgery. Apparently the older you are (and I don’t consider 38 that old – hah – especially as I run races); the slooooower you heal – should you heal at all.
One dentist I spoke to said that I shouldn’t be too angry with the surgeon over the root canal as such things do happen during this surgery – although as a tooth-lover, she was livid that the surgeon had not given me the heads-up that such an event is possible. Tangent – fellow readers – if you’ve had this surgery. And if your swelling is not going down and is instead going up and hardening – visit your dentist to make sure your roots are fine.
As for the nose, I’m blaming that on the surgeon. Again, this is a known side-effect. Again, he never gave me a heads-up.
As for some of the other complications – that award goes to the orthodontist – who despite his acclaim runs an absurdly overcrowded practice. Should I launch a malpractice suit – probably – but this surgery has already taken too much from me.
So in my previous post, I should have added a very important caveat.
This surgery has risks. It also has wonderful outcomes (see Graham – P.S. Congrats on the marriage. Your wife, like you, is a stunner). However, be aware that those risks seem to increase vastly for those in the 35+ range who in jaw-surgery terms are regarded as geriatric : (
The other two dreadful outcomes I’ve read both rocked people in my age range.
March 24, 2016 at 8:00 pm
Thanks again for sharing all of this. To be honest, I was never told things like root problems were a risk when I had the surgery either. In response to your story, I think I’ll add a page explaining the risks involved with jaw surgery so people can be better informed.
I hope you’re able to come to terms with the outcome… it sounds really frustrating. 😞
January 2, 2016 at 4:34 am
Hello Graham! Thanks a million for this amazing blog!
My orthodontist just told me that I am ready to do my surgery this summer. At first, I refused to do the surgery but because my jaw is asymmetrical due to cross-bite, I have no other choice.
Your blog is REALLY and TRULY helping me to prepare for d-day. I tried to find blogs like yours but ended up finding plastic surgery hospital advertisements.
Oh yeah, I have one question if that is alright.
Like Laura up there, I am quite freaked out about the waking up part. I am scared that I would not be able to breathe due to blood all clogged up in the nose. Will there be a panic attack?
Thanks again! 🙂
January 7, 2016 at 7:08 pm
So you’re going to take the plunge! As I’ve mentioned to others dreading the initial congestion, I think mental preparation is key. Remember that the congestion will be temporary and try to distract yourself from it with TV shows, going for walks, etc. You’d be amazed what a walk outside in the fresh air can do for a person. 😉
If you remember, please remind me when you go in for surgery this summer and I’ll say a quick prayer for you!
January 7, 2016 at 11:14 pm
Thank you~ you are so kind! I guess I just have to stay positive. And you look great by the way!
I will tell you how it goes 🙂 I think I will build a fort of Ensures as well hahah
February 10, 2014 at 11:03 am
Hi Graham, sorry to bother you! I just want to say how amazing your blog is reading about your journey. I am having double jaw surgery next monday and although I want it doing for the same reasons you mentioned, I am terribly scared. I am not the best person with hospitals etc but I understand it is something I am going to have to deal with! what was it like waking up after the surgery do you feel a lot of pain etc? not knowing what to expect (feeling and look wise) is a nightmare! Also, did you experience a lot of change to your nose? and finally.. how long does it take to see the result? thanks very much, laura x
February 10, 2014 at 2:09 pm
Laura, try not to get too stressed out about the surgery. In a few short months, you’ll be smiling proudly on the other side of this.
Waking up after the operation can be slightly daunting, so try to have someone from your family visit you in the hospital each day you’re there (generally, between 2–3 days). You’ll likely be a little cold, since hospitals tend to be chilly, and quite lonely because you won’t be able to speak due to the swelling. A familiar face can prove to be extremely comforting for the few days you’ll be in the hospital.
As for your nose, you shouldn’t notice too big of a change in your appearance—only subtle shifts in the shape of your face. You won’t begin to see the true shape of your face until around the 10-week mark, so try not to pass any judgements when you look into the mirror until at least that time.
Overall, stay positive, keep busy with books, movies, and walks outside, and try to eat and drink as much as you can during the first few weeks. Your body will need the energy from that food. =)
February 7, 2014 at 5:00 pm
Thanks so much for writing this journal! I had a double-jaw surgery to correct my overbite 10 days ago.
My surgery lasted a mere 2 1/2 hours and most of the swelling is now gone. I still can’t fill my lower lip or chin and I’m able to talk no better than a 3-year old. Just tried to eat small pieces of a very soft cake with no success, but have been able to drink from a cup since day 3.
Breathing and drooling were the worst aspects of my experience so far. A couple of days ago I expelled some goblins from my nostrils and my quality of life improved tenfold. As for the drooling it has slightly subsided over the last couple of days as I slowly regain some feeling inside my mouth.
I think the orthodontics leg that will follow will take a lot of time since no tooth on my left side touch whereas every single one on the right do (the opposite I had before surgery). The surgeon told me that this is common in patients with a very asymmetrical face pre-op. I hope he’s right as I would probably refuse any offer to undergo surgery again.
I hope I’ll be as satisfied as you were at the end of this journey. The pain/inconvenience is so intense that I feel I will have to be rewarded eventually.
Again, many thanks for keeping this journal. I read through it all over the last 10 days seeking info and comfort.
All the best,
February 8, 2014 at 10:45 am
Normando, it’s great to hear that you’re already noticing your swelling going down. The initial weeks are incredibly frustrating, but it sounds like you’re handling them with ease. I had bite issues following surgery as well, so I can say with decent confidence that your bite should settle into a very usable state before the recovery period is over. Stay positive and you’ll be smiling again in mere weeks! =)
January 19, 2014 at 3:37 pm
Hey when did you start going back to the gym/ working out? Im about 90days in and looking to get back in the gym. Do you think that would be a safe idea?
January 20, 2014 at 10:09 pm
James, you should be good to return to the gym by now. I returned to lifting weights around the 6-week mark and you’re long past that. Just be careful when lifting extremely heavy weights as you don’t want to clench down on your teeth too hard at first.
April 25, 2013 at 7:04 pm
My son had double jaw surgery last summer and we found your blog extremely helpful. We were constantly checking as to what we shoud expect and how he shoud be eating and what to eat Thanks alot! He had very good results and says now it was well worth it, although at the moment it wasn’t very nice. I know this is about a year too late, but thanks again for a great blog with real life experience.
April 26, 2013 at 9:49 am
Christine, thanks for sharing your kind words. It’s certainly tough to appreciate what the outcome will be when you’re in the frustrating part of the recovery. I’m glad your son deemed the experience worthwhile. =)
February 16, 2013 at 9:27 am
So I’m at day 11 post op already and I feel great! Starting to feel like myself again. My swelling has gone down immensely and I only have a little puffiness left in my cheeks so I look like a chipmunk nowinstead of shrek.. I’d say that’s an improvement!.. I haven’t had the same eating experience as you did, I’ve been drinking straight from a cup from day 1 .. No syringe for me and I’m getting my splint off at the three week mark.. Thank god.. I can’t wait to talk like a human again. I am also now allowed to eat foods “that I can squish between my fingers” so I am gonna try scrambled eggs today.
I must say, my pain has been pretty non existent.. I only have numbness on my cheeks right next to my nose and I have tons of movement in my lips.. I really can’t complain.. This whole experience has been so much better than I expected and thank god for that! Haha
I do have one nerve I feel coming back that likes to spasm and make me feeling like a small part of my face is getting electrocuted .. But what can you do?? Lol
Thanks again for all your words of wisdom 🙂
Oh btw, when you got ur splint off, were u able to talk, eat and do a lot more things??
February 18, 2013 at 3:46 am
Carolyn, that’s great to hear that you’ve had very minimal pain during your recovery. If you haven’t been subject to pain yet, you’re probably set for the remaining few months of your journey. Lucky you!
When my splint was removed, I could talk much more clearly, but I still couldn’t eat very much because my jaw was so weak from being dormant for 7 weeks. I recall being able to eat regular meals a few weeks after that glorious day I had my splint taken out, though. =)