The 6-Month Update

Kodak moment!

It’s been six months since my face got kicked in with a scalpel. My surgeon told me that the results I experience after six months will most likely be the results I’ll live with for the rest of my life.

I’ll begin with the good news, since I believe we should always focus on the positive (unlike, say, the news). My braces should be off by Christmas time. Apparently they’re only still on so I have a place to hook my elastics on to. That’s going to be a glorious day. I’ll be able to smile while I eat!

I’ve received a lot of positive comments regarding how different I look. I still fail to see the change, but my entire social circle can’t be wrong. (I’ve also been informed that women will come flocking with this shiny new jaw of mine, but that hasn’t happened yet either. Good things take time though. I think.)

Now for the less than optimal news. I’ve been left with a severe open bite on one side of my mouth. This makes it difficult to chew, especially when it comes to items like steak or gum. I’m considering having a second surgery performed to close my bite. It would be far less intense than the first one, since all the surgeon would have to do is make a single cut along the roof of my mouth and insert enough putty (read: cadaver bone) to fill in the gap that needs to be made to push my teeth together.

I’m also still completely numb in the lower left corner of my bottom lip and chin. I believe this is permanent. It doesn’t actually bother me though, because the only time I notice it is when I’m shaving.

That’s the end of the news. We’ll now go to intermission with a little video slideshow I threw together that cycles through all of my mugshots. I searched long and hard to find a fun tune that has the words “teeth” and “jaw” in it, and I succeeded! Don’t worry–it’s only 19 seconds long!

That was a fun little intermission, wasn’t it?

This will be the last post made on this blog. It will remain as a point of reference for others undergoing the wild ride that is jaw surgery. (Edit: Since I was repeatedly asked to post a picture of myself sans hardware, I’ve made one more post: The Final Product.)

Thanks to everyone out there who has taken this trip with me! I’ve enjoyed the messages, emails, in-person encounters and comments that have all contributed to building a community around this odd experience.

33 Comments

  1. Hey Graham,

    I love your blog. I’ve been reading it off and on since my surgery ( which was on January 28th, 2014). I’m interested to know, how long did you experience clicking/popping/cracking post-surgery? I’m almost 5 months out and I am still getting this. It seems to come and go. I had virtually no clicking or popping sounds until about the 2 month mark, but after that it’s been with me fairly consistently. It doesn’t really bother me that much, I’m just curious if you ( or anyone else who reads this forum) has had similar experiences.My surgeon’s office said it’s not important and its normal. My orthodontist said the same thing thing. I more curious than anything, really.

    • Chris, the clicking and popping in my jaw went away around the 3-month mark, but I’ve met several people who say it never went away. As long as it’s not painful or frustrating, I wouldn’t worry about it. It may go away over time as your joints fall into step. =)

  2. Graham,

    You are a gentleman and a scholar sir, I greatly appreciate all the recommendations. Looking forward to the cooler weather.

    Regards,

    Coby

  3. Hey Graham,

    I really appreciate it. I’m hoping to do some white water rafting and/or skydiving while I am there, I’m a bit of an adrenaline junky, do you have any suggestions on that front?

    regards,

    Coby

  4. Hey Graham,

    It has been about a year and a half since my surgery and my jaws still get fatigued when chewing certain food items, i.e. beef jerky. Do you still notice any fatigue when eating certain things? Also, my family and I will be visiting Alberta next week. We were going to go last year but the floods prevented us from getting to go. At any rate, I was wondering if you had any suggestions on things to do while we are there.

    Thanks,

    Coby Tumlinson

    • Hi again Coby!

      I don’t recall experiencing any fatigue or soreness in my jaw a full 18 months after surgery, but that being said, I also don’t eat a lot of really touch, chewy foods like beef jerky, so it’s possible I simply didn’t push my jaw enough to arrive at that point. In any regard, it’s not something you should have to live with for the rest of your life, so you may want to call your surgeon and ask if they can think of any reasons for it.

      Regarding Alberta, I would definitely get out to Canmore to hike Ha Ling Peak and I would also head to Banff (only 20 minutes from Canmore) and try out the new Glacier Skywalk. The temperature is starting to warm up a bit here, so hopefully you get some blue sky and sunshine when you arrive.

      Take care for now!

  5. Loved the intermission, but was excited to hear you talk.. Just music. Please do another video and talk to us so we can put a voice to your story. I have read lots of blogs and viewed many videos. These scared me a lot and made my hubby nauseous.

    I was very happy to come across you. I laughed a lot reading your story. I hope I will have your sense of humor as I heel.

    You look Amazing!

    • Sallee, I forgot about this little YouTube video entirely! Sorry it wasn’t a speech from me, ha. If you’d like to hear my speak, you’ll just have to come visit me in (cold) Canada! =)

  6. Hi Graham,

    Thanks a lot for ur response. Actually orthodontist said doing the surgery now will eliminate ton of future dental work and enhance breathing, look and the pressure on the TMJ.
    plus the fact close people telling me I should do it.

    Thank you for expressing your thoughts to me!

  7. Hi Graham,

    Your Blog is fantastic. Thank you for keeping it updated.

    I have an over jet/deep bite and all the orthodontics I have been to, said I have to have a jaw surgery to solve the problem. I currently don’t have any health problems like sleep apnea or trouble breathing or chewing and can’t get motivated to start this trip.
    I am currently 28 years old and in my mind I am thinking if I didn’t do it now, I am not going to do it in the future since the healing process will be harder when you start aging.

    I am not sure if this trip is worth going through all the pain, money and inconvenience or I should continue to be satisfied with my current look which I am.

    Any thoughts would be much appreciated…

    Thank you so much!

    • Hi Tina,

      If there are no longterm medical consequences of avoiding the surgery, there’s no reason you should go through with it for looks alone, especially considering you seem to be happy with your appearance and smile.

      I generally recommend this operation to anyone who will end up suffering from cross-bites, sleep apnea, or TMJ later in life if they avoid this. I also promote it to people whose lack of confidence in their smile is affecting their lives when it comes to dating, interviewing for jobs, and general happiness.

      If you’re happy with your smile and your orthodontist doesn’t think your deep bite will lead to complications in the future, the ball is totally in your court. I think it’s always smart to avoid invasive surgery when it’s not completely necessary.

      Best of luck in your choice!

  8. Thanks Graham. Also how long after your surgery did you wait to shave? I go back to work next week which will be 3 weeks post op and I look like a beast. But I’m a bit worried about getting a line up considering my chin area is still numb.

  9. Hey. I know it’s been years since you’ve updated. Hopefully you respond. I just had a lower jaw advancement and genioplasty. I feel a tingling in my chin and bottom lip is this feeling coming back or a sign of numbness? Hope to hear from you. Ps your results are awesome.

  10. What was like like getting your screws taken out. Did you get full motion after that? I really wanna eat a hamburger without tearing it part

    • Mitch, I never had my screws or plates removed—I still have them all. They don’t cause me any issues. As for scar tissue, if you whistle several times each day, you’ll be able to break up the scar tissue in your face within a few weeks.

  11. So you’re saying its the scar tissue that needs to break up not the screws and plates holding my jaw down? And how do I break up the scar tissue?

  12. Did you do any exercises too? Cause it’s really embarrising trying to eat a hamburger in front of my friends..

  13. Hey, I just had upper jaw surgery March 8th this year 2013. How long was it until you could fully open your jaw? I can open it a fair amount, but I don’t know how to get it to open all the way. Any tips or experiences you had? Did you do any exercises too? Cause it’s really embarrising trying to eat a hamburger in front of my friends.. I can only stick one finger vertically, and 3 horizontally if that helps.

    • Mitch, I didn’t get my full range of motion back until the full three months had passed. I recommend you begin chewing sugar-free gum all day every day as this provides constant exercise for your jaw. I would also advise you to try whistling for a few seconds 10–20 times per day since this will break up the scar tissue in your face. Exercising your jaw muscles by chewing gum and breaking up your scar tissue by whistling should land you with a fully functioning jaw in just a few weeks at this point in your recovery. =)

  14. Hey Graham,

    I am 4,5 month post op. I still experience a lot of clicking in my right jaw. I also feel pain when I yawn. Did that happen to you in your 4th month? Will that go away in my 6th month?

    Thanks!

    • Lara, you should not have any more pain when yawning by the fourth month. I can understand your jaw may still be somewhat tight, as the muscle is still stretching, but it should not be painful. I would give your surgeon a quick call to see if they’re interested in you going in for a x-ray to make sure the screws and plates put in during surgery are as they should be. They may tell you to give yourself another month as well, which is a perfectly acceptable judgement. =)

  15. I’m happy you made it through. I haven’t been having a good time with my recovery. My surgeon is always saying one thing and then the next time I see him he says another. He actually fights with my mom and I. I’ve been going off of your timeline ever since I’ve been able to actually work my phone. It’s helped a lot but the few things I’m scared about is how my lips will look since he cut my lip so that it will look “luscious”<his saying! And that I might not get feeling back in my lip or chin!! I'm happy to hear you got through it but I'm ready to eat regular food but my surgeon said he wants me to wait 4 months before trying to chew food and I'm getting my splint out next Friday which will be week 3 after surgery for me! I don't know if he's crazy stupid or just wants more money so he can fix my bite again! But I'm happy you made it through congrats on the smile!! Looks great!

    • Cassidy, your surgeon sounds like a frustrating character. I do hope you regain feeling in your lips and chin. I’ve learned to live with the numb area I was left with but I still wouldn’t wish that on anyone else. Now that you’re nearly two full months into recovery, you’ll be feeling much better. You still, however, won’t have a very accurate picture of what you’ll look or feel like when all the swelling is gone, so make sure you continue to be patient and don’t pass any judgements on yourself until you’re fully healed. =)

  16. hey! how long did you have your braces on for after the surgery, and is that considered a normal time frame? and could you eat normally within 5 months? thanks (:

    • Megan, I wore braces for 9 months following the surgery. Most orthodontists recommend wearing them for 6 months up to a year after the operation, depending on your teeth. And you’ll be able to eat normally a lot sooner than 5 months, so no worries there!

  17. Yes, everyone seems impressed by the eating. I can fit almost two fingers in the opening between my teeth so anything i can slide in there that is soft (lasagna, curry with rice, etc) I just kind of mush up with my tongue and a little with the molars that actually touch on the right side. Gonna take some more ortho work to get the left to touch, but I see the ortho for the first time post-op tomorrow. I was really enjoying those creamy desserts and Alfredo sauces though! Good thing I wasn’t overweight to begin with. 🙂

    I’m just going to have to suck it up (literally) and accept that the numbness ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. I hate the big fat lip feeling. Ugh.

    Thanks again, the blog really has been so helpful and you’re adorable! I’m a married mother of two so I think I am allowed to say that without being accused of harassment. 🙂

  18. I had my double jaw surgery on July 17 to correct an overjet and gummy smile which were causing joint issues, so it has been exactly two weels since i was lying on that operation room table. Aside from hating those first 10 days being wired tightly shut, recovery is going really well. I’m already eating soft solid food (so much for the promised drastic weight loss!) and the swelling is almost gone.

    However, the numbness/tingling is driving me CRAZY!!!! The entire right side of my face, the lower left side, and my nose are super numb with almost constant underlying tingling. I feel like I have bugs crawling across my face constantly and it often burns. Sometimes it is almost too much to bear. I know that the tingling means that the nerves are repairing themselves and that this means that feeling will likely return but I feel like i have reached a plateau in my recovery already and it’s getting me down a bit. Bummer to hear that six months down the road you are still numb!

    I try to focus on how much better life is now than when I was wired shut, but nothing I do seems to relieve the intense tingling and itching. Heat, ice, etc. Every day I wake up and it is no better. I know I’m being impatient and it could take months, but was hoping that someone knows of some techniques to relieve the discomfort or speed up the nerve recovery.

    Now i know why the surgeons kept taking about the numbness! I was blowing it off thinking it would be mild like theincison from my c-sections, but i guess when it is on your FACE it is a little more annoying than on your lower abdomen.

    Have loved your blog. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Alyssa,

      I can’t believe you’re already eating solid food a mere week and a half after your surgery. Lucky you!

      Unfortunately, the only cure for the tingling and itching is to somehow get your mind off of it. I remember how frustrating those sensations were, but I promise they will go away eventually.

      It sounds like your recovery is going amazingly well. Stay strong and those sensations will be gone in no time!

  19. I personally wasn’t able to eat solid food until my 8th week into recovery, but that seems to be longer than anyone else. It’s different for every person, so the fact that you can only eat yogurt on day 18 really isn’t an indicator of anything bad. You’re doing alright!

  20. when were you able to start eating or chewing “real” food? i am on day 18 and the closest thing to real food that i ate is yogurt.

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