Before and After Photos

  • Pain: 0/10
  • Inconvenience: 0/10

It’s been a while since I’ve taken a mugshot!

Have you ever bitten clear through a sandwich? How about a piece of pizza? What about a hot dog? Let me tell you something: It is absolutely incredible! The mere fact that I no longer have to tear through my food like some rabid beast makes this entire ordeal well worth the time, money and discomfort. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I never knew how simple chewing was until now. It almost makes me speechless. I understand that this sounds ridiculous to those of you who were blessed with a working set of teeth, but I’d like you to know that you’re lucky. Very lucky.

As promised, I’ve returned with my before and after photos. While the change may not appear to be that great, it has made a huge difference in my life.

Before surgery (Feb. 9, 2010) – Notice the underbite (and the awkward smile).

After surgery (June 22, 2010) – Four items to note: a confident smile, the appliance in the roof of my mouth, the open bite on the lefthand side of my mouth and my off center goatee.

I had another appointment with my surgeon since we last crossed paths and he left me with the following statements:

  • Feeling should hopefully commence its long journey home to my bottom lip over the next 3-6 months.
  • The feeling I’m left with after 18 months is what I’ll live with for the rest of my life.
  • I can choose to correct my open bite enough by wearing elastics until early next year, or I can opt for another surgery to bring my molars together.

I’ve eaten everything from pasta to cereal to salad to steak. In fact, the only item I’m still unable to chew at this point is a peanut (or any kind of nut, for that matter). They’re a little too solid just yet. Despite my open bite, I’ve been chewing on both sides of my mouth, but eating something like a steak becomes quite an exhausting activity. It doesn’t keep me from eating steak every single weekend though. I’m also able to chew gum again, which I’m grateful for, considering its my one and only addiction in this world.

I even got to experience chattering teeth again on one of our cold mornings! That, however, felt less than amazing.

I know my bone is completely healed because I’ve already taken several falls landing directly on my face and had no problems at all. On a seemingly unrelated note, never let the handlebars of your bike hit a tree while riding, because that very bike will launch off the trail. And then, whether you like it or not, you’ll get to experience all the excitement of doing a flip. I’m not saying that happened to me but, well, that definitely happened to me.

The Fortress of Ensure collapsed on July 12th when I attempted to add another can to its spire. About 15 people came from every corner of the office when they heard the crash. I recycled every last piece of rubble, donating over $6 of free cans to the company. The offending building block was a can of Sun Tropics Mango juice. I imagine people will one day share tales of The Great Collapse with their grandchildren, but they’ll be referring to the Fortress of Ensure instead of the Mayan civilization.

My one last piece of advice to anyone who has recently taken part in this party we like to call jaw surgery is this: Above all else, give your body time to recover. Eventually, you’ll stop chewing on your own cheeks and lips. You’ll naturally adjust to your new mouth and you’ll be very grateful for the ability to chew properly. It took me almost a full month before I could eat a meal without accidentally eating part of my own face.

I’ll likely make one more post in approximately six months detailing the final outcome of this little adventure. Until next time!

21 Comments

  1. I had double jaw surgery on July 25th, 2012. I have been following your blog even before I had my surgery. It has helped alot and I just wanted to say thanks. Today is 90 days since my surgery. It has been tough at times, but like you said it was all worth it and I would recommend it to anyone. Also did your jaws still make noises or cracked at 90 days? Sometimes when I open my mouth or chew I hear a noise or cracking sound. Do you think that’s normal?

    • I’m glad you found the blog useful, Heather! My jaw made a clicking noise whenever I opened my mouth wide (when yawning or laughing) for the first 2–3 months, but the sound went away after that. I would give it another month before you worry. =)

  2. Hi Jacky!

    Going back to school next week is going to be difficult, but you might be able to pull through. You probably won’t be able to speak very well, but you’re not supposed to talk in class anyway, right?

    As for the spasms, those will go away with time. You should give them about a month to run their course and move on to bigger and better things.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know of any amazing remedies for them. My only advice is to use heat packs on your face at night and look forward to life a month down the road.

    Good luck, my friend!

  3. Hi Graham,
    I recently just went under two corrective jaw surgeries for my underbite as well. The first time (12/14/11) they decided not to wire me shut because they didn’t think it was necessary at the time. My recovery was quite speedy, I took myself off pain killers after a few days. A week later, it turned out that my swelling had gotten so out of control, it popped the screws on my left side out. I had to get scheduled for another surgery asap. So on 12/29/11 I got my second jaw surgery and they decided to wire me shut for around 6 weeks.

    I’m starting school in a week, and I’m having so much more difficulty with the recovery the second time around. I expected it to be an easier recovery than the first one, but it’s ten times more difficult. The muscle spasms are KILLING me! I didn’t even know these were a possibility during the post op recovery.. I’ve tried icing them, which works for a while.. until it’s time to go to sleep. The muscle spasms are getting worse day by day. I don’t know how to cope with it. I can’t even sleep because they’re just driving me crazy. It doesn’t even seem like the pain medication (hydrocodone) works for the muscle spasms. What did you do to make the best out of the situation? And are there any complications I should know about that my doctor didn’t notify me with?

  4. Good evening, Katie! That’s great to hear that you’re back to drinking out of a cup like a real human being! =)

    Enjoy those first few bites once you’re back on solid foods again.

  5. i just went throw the whole double jaw surgery with a splint and its not fun. thanks good to read im not the only one that had to go through this. its not fun and wouldnt wish this one anyone. i cant eat anything that is not 90% liquid. i have learned to drink out of a cup again so everything i eat doesnt have to come from my syringe anymore. cant wait to stop drooling guess that happens week 6 if not more. here we come week 3. hope all is good for you now

  6. Hi Isabella,

    I was 24 years old when I had the surgery (just last year). I had to spend 2 weeks away from work and I was fairly lacking in energy for about 2 months.

    One should plan to lay low for approximately 2 months. =)

    Hope this helps!

  7. Graham, Thank you for sharing your journey, your openess and generosity is deeply appreciated. Could you tell me how old you were when you had the surgery? How disruptive was it to your daily life.

  8. Thank you! I feel a little better already knowing that I shouldn’t worry about my weight too much!

  9. Hi Susan! Jaw surgery at 16–you lucky lady!

    I put weight on before surgery by, quite simply, eating. The best way to gain weight is to work out properly and eat as much as you can. That being said, don’t eat junk food, fast food, sugar-ridden treats or anything like that. Eat properly.

    The only way I can put weight on is to eat 4-5 meals per day. If I eat the regular 3 meals, my metabolism takes care of it.

    I would encourage you to not worry about putting weight on before surgery because you’re just going to lose it in the first few days post-op anyway. If you go into surgery at your regular weight, you’ll probably lose 10-15 lbs. If you gain 10 lbs prior to surgery, you’ll just lose 20-25 lbs immediately after. It really makes no difference. 🙂

  10. So I was wondering how you bulked up before your surgery.

  11. Hi Graham!

    I’m scheduled to have what sounds to be the same surgery this June. It seems my jaw sticks out much further than yours did, but I’m hoping that won’t make the surgery any worse. In fact, I’ll only be seven days away from being sixteen, so maybe I can bounce back ever faster than you did!

    Anyway, I’m really just glad to hear that chewing gets easier after surgery. It wasn’t until I read your blog that I realized over people didn’t have the same problems I do. No wonder people look at me funny when I’m trying to eat things like sandwiches and pizza! I find those to be the vey hardest of things to eat. Also glad to hear that I’m not the only one dealing with mouth breathing, spitting, and an ever open mouth.

    Lastly, I’m already on the verge of being underweight, (5’8, 115 lbs)

  12. Hey Cat, hopefully you get through this with your head held high. Just remember not to expect anything amazing until a few months have gone by. It’s really a short period in the long run though!

  13. Graham,

    I really enjoyed reading this, I am getting double jaw surgery on Tuesday, I was really nervous and scared. However, after reading your postings I feel much better about it. What you said about being able to bite through a sandwich and actually being able to chew sounds amazing. So I just wanted to thank you for giving me hope that this surgery is all worth it. Good luck with everything, I wish you the best.

  14. Hey Mai,

    I’m pretty I’m just squinting less in the second set of photos, haha.

    I definitely think the surgery was worthwhile. I’d do it all over again if I had to.

  15. hey graham:
    you look great, i was looking at the before and after, is it me or did your eyes get bigger? O.O

    also, was it worth it? the whole surgery, the after math the whole shebang?

  16. Hey Misty!

    You’ll be pretty exhausted during the first few weeks of your recovery. Intense reading, or anything that requires a lot of thought, will probably be difficult to do for extended periods of time.

    I had the same good intentions as you, but I ended up just watching a lot of television and sleeping quite often.

    Maybe your drive is stronger than mine though!

  17. I am scheduled to have surgery on October 26th. It’s starting to sink in a bit so I’m freaking out a little reading these accounts 🙂 Yours is very funny and informative, though, and I am very reassured that you consider it worth it. It would be so nice to be able to breathe through my nose!

    Question: during the two weeks post-op were you able to do any serious reading? I’m wondering if I should just stock up on fiction books or if I can make an attempt to read more educational books. Or is it really mostly just watching TV and not thinking at all?

    Thanks a bunch!

  18. Keith,

    You’re right–90 days is really not all that long. It’s almost been 6 months for me. Time flies!

    Glad you found this useful.

    Cheers!

  19. Hey Graham,

    I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time and effort to write all this down. I just got my surgery date to correct my underbite, open bite and crossbite. Reading about your experiences may not have made the adventure seem anymore enjoyable, but I at least know what to expect heading in. The important thing I think is that it puts a real perspective on things. 90 days. That’s it.

    So I guess I’m wrong…it really did help.

    You have my thanks.

  20. Vicky,

    I had no clever way of cleaning that area out. I just dealt with the bad breath and annoyance of having food stuck in there until the splint came out.

    As long as you’re rinsing a few times per day with water and your medicated mouth rinse, you shouldn’t have to worry about cavities or infections.

    You’re going to love brushing once your splint is out!

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