5 Years Later

5 years later and still smiling!

Despite trying to walk away from this blog twice (here and here), I’ve been drawn back yet again. It seems helping people through the experience of having jaw surgery is something of an addiction.

Perhaps most importantly, I should let you know that I am back to help answer your questions (and have been doing so for nearly 2 months already). It’s been encouraging to see people helping each other out in the comments as well, so thanks to all of you who are sharing your own wisdom with people new to this surgery.

In case you’re wondering what happened during my 5-year hiatus, I’d like to share a few brief updates on my life since my previous “final” post.

  • After 6 years in university, I finally graduated with a degree in Computer Engineering. I’m not sure what that means, exactly, but many adults seemed to think it was a good thing to collect.
  • I let all of my professors down by opting to become a traveling bum instead of getting a desk job. In 2012, I traveled around this blue and green orb God gave us (also known as Earth) and discovered friendly, hopeful people all over the place. The year-long experience involved many long bus rides, sleeping on park benches, eating frogs, walking cheetahs, and seeing the number $0 on my bank statements. (I was also lucky enough to spend Christmas in Malaysia with a fellow jaw hero!)
  • I met a girl named Roma along the way and then married her a year later. If you’re interested, you can read a bit of our sappy little love story.
  • We moved to Thailand because we’re wimps when it comes to winter in Canada. We have not stopped sweating since that day. 😅
  • My commitment to being a computer geek finally paid off and spurred a career in programming. I now work as a remote software engineer from all corners of the world. (Today, I’m writing this blog post from the town of Siem Reap in Cambodia.)
  • I learned that I like cats.

This is the girl I met. (Also, my wife.)

Since this is a blog about jaw surgery, I suppose an update on the current state of my jaw would prove useful as well. 😁

  • I still wear my retainer 2 nights per week, a habit lovingly enforced by my wife.
  • I now floss every single night, another habit forced encouraged by Roma.
  • I still have permanent numb patches in my lower lip and chin, but they do not negatively impact my life in any way (except maybe for those awkward moments when I have water running down my chin and nobody has the courage to tell me about it).
  • I can eat and drink anything and my open bite no longer affects my chewing.

Finally, even 5 full years after my recovery, I still highly recommend this surgery for anyone who has difficulty chewing or feels an extreme lack of confidence due to their smile.

If you have any questions, or perhaps just want to say hello, feel free to leave a comment below and I will happily respond.

I wish you all a very happy new year and hope to meet even more of you in 2016!

18 Comments

  1. Has anyone used Kaiser for their jaw surgery? I’m looking into switching over to them because I hear they’re really good at covering the whole surgery but I’m wondering if i switch over after already getting surgical braces and having consultations with a jaw surgeon will they consider my condition pre-existing and not cover the surgery? If anyone has any insight on this please let me know!

  2. Hi everyone,
    I’m currently 19, but I’ve been awaiting double jaw surgery since I was 16. Until my othor pointed it out my family never took my pain complaints or comments about my jaw being shifted to the left seriously. When I’m extremely skinny it is really noticeable but as I gain more weight i actually kind of look almost Normal; until you look at me from a certain angle or head on. Many people say that they don’t notice it until I point it out. I feel like they’re able to noticed something about my face being off but they just can’t pinpoint what it is. I have struggled with low self esteem for as long as I can remember and having this deformity, as they call it, just makes matters worse. I use to have pain and get lockjaw quite often, but after having my braces for a while it went away. I still get a sense that my jaw is sore at times,but it’s not painful; it sort of feels like an ache from simply chewing a lot. Well anyways, now it’s a week before my surgery and everyone’s asking if I’m sure I want to go through with it. Since I tend to stress a lot and focus on the negative, I thought the easiest way to go through with this was to not think so much. Everyone said it was a good idea so i agreed to it. I feel like I’m sort of naive in the sense that I’m just blindly jumping into this, but at first I was hesitant. I did think about the risks and the recovery time. The surgeons nonchalant attitude as he explained i would need at least 5 weeks off and I would probably start to eat food after two weeks, made everything seem simply and made it feel like it wasn’t a big deal. but I ran into a patient that had her surgery a year ago and she said it was the most traumatic thing she’s ever gone through and she barely feels like she’s filling recovering. Her first piece of food was 2 months after her surgery and it was only a little piece of toast that she had to let soak in her mouth. Now I understand that the surgeon seemed to downplay the aftermath a lot more than I though and I realized that as my family urged me toward the surgery they didn’t really considered the aftermath because I was the one that would be experiencing it. Now that the date is finally near it’s so real they’re beginning to question the surgery. They say “are you sure you want it? it’s not even noticeable”, “you don’t even need it, others have it way worse”, “you can barely tell” , “you look normal.” I know they’re worried about the pain I’d go through but that’s the least of my worries. I’ll go through take the pain if that’s what it takes to want to be in photographs and to want to smile. But the thought of not liking how I turn out terrifies me completely. My fear is coming out even worse than I looked before the surgery. And now the recovery time has me a little nervous too. I keep seeing people say “years”. As it is Im really self conscious, I’m hoping to look semi Normal by the time I have to return to school in August so i don’t know how I’m going to do it if it takes months to years to recovery . And If people say they don’t even notice my crooked jaw then should I not go through with surgery? If I never allow myself to get really skinny then it’s not as noticeable. I mean the way I am rn you can tell something is slightly off with my face but it’s something you just look over I guess. I just have to not let myself get too skinny or too fat to keep up my semi normal looking appearance? I know I can back out of the surgery if I really want to but I don’t know if I should. As I’m writing this I kind of talked myself into getting it. This isn’t something I want to have to be struggling with the rest of my life, even if the surgeon says it’s a mild case ,it is still something that affects me tremendously and I put a lot of thought into it everyday. But there stilll is that little part of me that thinks maybe I’m being childish and I should just learn to love my face the way it is because of what’s at stake and how serious this surgery is. So sorry I’m not sure if this is worth posting or if this is more of one of those things that you just write for yourself, but I’m just going to post it anyways and see if I get any feedback. Thank you all for listening (:

    • I’m 38 and 6 weeks post-op. There are bad days and good days. I can safely say for me mostly good.

      I’ve been where you are. I struggled for a very long time with going through it. I waited nearly a year before even starting the braces. I consulted with the chief of surgery for the area to get a better understanding of the process and it helped.

      Within a few months of surgery I really started to panic about it and stress over it. So much so I sought a consult from the surgeon who would end up operating on me. It helped bigtime. I really had to work to train myself mentally to appreciate how great it is to get this surgery. It’s a teaching hospital with a gifted staff.

      It is understandable that you are going through feelings of self-esteem. To this day, I do not like to be in photos and hated my face. 6-weeks out and things are not quite settled, but I already feel better about my appearance. It kind of hits me every few days.

      This blog is a great informative place to see how Graham’s experience was. I learned though that everyone’s experience is different. You will just note similarities in experiences.

      It’s worth it. You are not being “childish”. If you have the opportunity to get this procedure, it will be worth it in the end. The success rate is high across the board for most.

      On my site I have some blog entries specific to how I am dealing. Head out over and check them out if you want.

      Dann

      http;//www.dannalexander.com

    • Everything “Dann” said in response to your comment is spot on. I hated and I mean hated the way I looked for so long, I had a gf during the whole thing and it darn near tore our relationship apart because all I could think about was if anyone could notice my jaw, or does smile look weird? Am I ugly? Blah blah blah, I am thirty yrs old now and I am a little over a year post op braces removed and all. All I can tell you is it is 100 percent worth it . I had a major crossbite and underbite , and my recovery was twelve days wired shut with a splint in my mouth for six weeks. Every single day of that is worth it for the way I look now. Also in the grand scheme of your life, it is a relatively short amount of time . I look back in regret at how petty and ridiculous my insecurities were, but I totally understand where you are coming from. Also I made my self darn puke days before surgery because I was terrified. Wether or not I would be in pain or all these complications would arise, or just the worst thing imangiable you could think of, I was worried about it. Like I said I’m a year out and yah I still have numbness and can feel just surgery sensations I guess , but they are so small in the sense that I have the biggest smile now. Trust me man I know how hard it is to go through this, whatever you’re thinking or afraid I guarantee you I thought of it as well. You either gotta do it and hope for the best cause the majority of the time it’s going to work out.

    • Hi Rose,
      Yes it will be the most traumatic thing you will ever go through, but you should do it now before you get older. I waited too long for mine to be done, until 28! The longer you wait the heavier the mental recovery. That’s the part that doctors didn’t tell me anything about. I suggest a strong support system of people who love you and help you day to day tasks. You’re literally going have your skull sawed off and put back together with screws, plates, and bolts. My recovery was about 4 months before I could start feeling like myself and start to eat normally-ish. Don’t underestimate the power and strength in your youth. Your 20s will thank you! trust me, the sooner you get it done, the sooner you will forget about it. You wont even recognize the person you were before. Do it for yourself, not for looks, for your overall oral health in your later years. You have to think about the future. It’s been almost 3 years for me post op, double jaw surgery, I only had a few friends checking on me, once in a while, the person I was dating at the time couldn’t take it and dumped me. I fed myself with those awful smoothies through a syringe day after day, all alone! If you have family hold on to them. You will NOT come out of it worse than before. Today I’m a completely different confident person who LOVES to smile all the time. I don’t recognize the self-conscious/low self-esteem person I was before. If I did it, so can you! This site helped me SOOO much, and it’s perfectly fine to cry, or be scared.

  3. I hit my 30 year double jaw surgery anniversary at the beginning of this month, my senior year of high school! Although I wasn’t quite fully developed and my jaws did reposition a bit, I would do it again in a minute! It changed my life….my self esteem! I still have numbness in my chin and roof of mouth and have had to have root canals due to damaged nerves, I too have had removal of titanium plates due to sinus issues but still retain a couple! Lately I have been dealing with a bit of pain in the back of my lower jaw, a little daunting but nothing Aleve won’t help with….still the best decision I made, or my parents made, although as I lay in preop my dad tells me I can change my mind!!

  4. This is such a great blog . I wish it had existed when I had my jaw surgery over ten years ago! I just wanted to add a story here in case in anyone else has this issue and is looking through this. Last year, almost 12 years after my surgery, I developed major pain and swelling in the top right cheek. The first doctor I went to thought it was a sinus infection. When it still didn’t go away after a week I went to a dentist who said it looked like an abscessed tooth. After scheduling a surgery I went in to meet with the oral surgeon who ran an MRI. It turns out, I was one of the less than 1% of people who develop an infection or reaction to the titanium plates used in the surgery. He removed the plates and the infection immediately went away. Just something crazy to keep in mind in case anyone else ever has this incredible uncommon problem as well! Make sure you don’t forget to tell your doctors about your surgery even after a very long period of time. (By the way, I am still incredibly happy with my double jaw surgery. It may have felt like getting hit in the head with a 2×4 the first couple of weeks but you WILL recover – and smile soooo much more afterward!)

  5. Hi Graham.

    This website has, and continues to be a terrific resource for me to refer to as I get closer to surgery which is now 8 days away as I type this.

    It has been 17 years since I experienced any surgery under general anesthesia. I’ve never been scared of any surgery in my life until this one. I’ve going through several surgery as a kid and they never bothered me then either. In December of 2013, my Dad passed away suddenly in my home town hospital. That night made me extremely fearful of hospitals. Something I am working to overcome this day.

    I am working hard every day to turn the fears into excitement. It is important for me to get in there and walk through those OR doors. Rather than be fearful, I need to be excited to get this done. The surgery is fully being covered by the provincial health plan. I’m very fortunate.

    I appreciate being able to read all of the comments, stories, and of course your posts and advice. I hope that I will wake up shortly after going under anasthesia and feel like no time has passed.

    Kind Regards,
    @WriterDann

  6. One year after double jaw surgery , just got my braces off today !! Not gonna lie this post helped me a lot when I was going through the early days and weeks of recovery. We had almost the same bite and procedure, and I also had to wear a splint for seven weeks after surgery ,and a bar on the roof of my mouth the rest of the time I had braces. There are some side effects like my jaw popping on my right side if I open too wide and some numbness but I’m so used to it by now I don’t notice. Anyone who is currently going through it or about to go through it, just do it ! I’m so much happier now that my teeth fit together so well and I can smile with confidence. If you are wired shut for a serious amount of time, BUY A WATER PICK!! That thing is a life saver for cleaning your teeth when your mouth is wired shut and your sucking liquids for so long. I also had a humidifier for when my nose would get all stuffy. All in all though once you’re through the procedure time will fly by so don’t get discouraged because before you know it , you will be staring in the mirror at those pearly new whites!! Haha good luck y’all !

  7. Love this blog! I’ve just recently turned 40 and finally decided to have double jaw surgery 2 weeks ago (must be having a midlife crisis)!

    Your daily updates (albeit 5 years ago) has helped me through the journey and your sense of humour has certainly put a smile on my face when days were low (well, kind of smile).

    Cheers!

    Rebecca (London)

  8. Hi Graham,

    I’m close to my 90-day mark from my double jaw surgery, on the 8th of December.
    Out of all the blogs, I found online yours was not only very helpful but well designed!
    Thank you for having the courage to put yourself out there and help others like me have a guide!

  9. I had jaw surgery 22years ago for TMJ. I still believe it was the best thing I ever did, even though back then they still wired my jaw shut afterward for four weeks. I too had to brief my husband to let me know if I ever have something on my face because there are still places on my chin where I just don’t feel anything. Lately though, I’ve started having popping again in my left TMJ joint. I started scouring the internet to see if anyone else ever had residual issues so many years after the successful surgery. That’s how I found your page. Good luck to you!!

  10. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. I admire your willpower to survive months on a liquid diet. I’m 6 days post op (double jaw surgery) and I feel like I’m losing my mind. I’m happy to see that things turned out so happily for you, it gives me hope that everything will be ok 🙂

  11. Thank you for writing about your experiences with this surgery. I’m tentatively going to be getting the same surgery this coming April and have been very nervous throughout the 15+ months that I’ve already had braces for. I’ve always been super self conscious about my smile as I have a severe underbite. Not only that, my teeth only really hit in the back so it is a pain to eat some foods (braces sure didn’t help). Reading about your experience has eased my mind a bit and I am hopeful that my surgery goes as well as yours.

  12. I can’t thank you enough for writing this and putting me at ease a little more! I will be having double jaw replacement in April of 2017. In the past 4 years I have had 2 double jaw reconstructions and they didn’t work. I’ve had TMJ and migraines since I was in elementary school so docs thought surgery number 1 would fix it….it didn’t! I was opening fine right after surgery and then my jaws stopped opening. On to the second surgery same thing happened! My surgeon then decided there was nothing more he could do now i have another surgeon who seems like he knows what he is talking about. They have concluded with CAT scans and other scans my jaw bones are growing together and if nothing is done in the next couple of years i won’t be able to open at all! Double jaw replacement here I come! I”m getting new jaws from TMJ concepts and I pray this fixes me up! As of now I can only open wide enough to get a kids toothbrush in my mouth so like something the size of a pen, pinky finger etc. Again thank you for blog and others who have posted!

  13. Thank you so much for this blog. It’s not only helping those actually having/had the surgery, but those caring for the patient as well. My boyfriend is 2.5hrs into his jaw surgery as I am writing this. Being the slightly over-protective type, I think I was more scared than he was in the run up to this. This blog has helped me so much to understand what they are doing and how and why. The tips on must-have items were awesome and I bought him a Nutri-bullet (I think I secretly wanted that) and some soft heat packs for his jaw as a get well soon present! His worst fear is the nerves being wrecked and having a numb mouth, but now we know that it’s up to 6months before we need to be concerned about that. About 2 hours left now… and still praying that everything is going to plan.

    • Day 3, right? How’s he doing?

      • 1 week later… it was rough at first because he was kept in hospital for 4 days and couldn’t seem to stem a constant nose bleed. Then he was back in hospital on day 5 for anaemia (no surprise). However, in the last 2 days he’s definitely more himself and feeling much better. The swelling and pain seems to be more manageable. It seems like if you can just get through those first few days, it’s all uphill from there because every day there is another improvement, even just little things make a big difference in the world of jaw surgery!

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