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!

45 Comments

  1. Hey Graham!

    Quick question to see if you’re at all familiar with this situation!

    I just had my splint removed a few days ago (26 Days Post-Op) and just had a visit with my orthodontist this morning, who checked my bite for about 2 minutes before telling me everything looked good and he was going to leave my bite as it is until I see him next in 8 weeks! Which means no Transpalatal arch appliance (like you had), which is making me slightly worried my upper jaw will narrow itself since there’s nothing in place to keep it from doing that!

    Is this at all common/have you heard of this before?

    Thanks for this blog!!
    Elliot

  2. Hey Graham,

    I just wanted to pop in and say khop kun kha (“thank you” in Thai for those not familiar) and say how much I appreciated and was grateful for your blog during my journey. Today marks 3 months exactly since my double jaw surgery to also fix my severe underbite. I was VERY insecure about it and it took me years to finally work up the courage to go through the process, especially because the thought of being a 28-year-old adult with braces was appalling, and to this day I still struggle with feeling insecure about them.

    However, I am glad to say that the braces have actually been the worst part of this whole experience, and my surgery was the least convenient part. All went well, with no complications, and according to my surgeon, I healed faster than average. The discomfort and recovery was not as bad as I thought it would be, although there was pain that felt almost unbearable at times, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Luckily, my splint was removed after only 2 weeks! And I was allowed to start chewing soft foods after just 3 weeks. I was expecting much worse than that, so this made the whole surgery experience more than worth it.

    I credit this to the months of research and preparation I did, including religiously reading your blog and taking notes and consistently referring to it. It was such a relief to know that I was not alone in this, and I was comforted that because of your blog it made realize how many others have also gone through or are undergoing this very same process.

    I am still having a hard time chewing normally, and I still have a bit of numbness on the left side of my bottom lip and chin. But overall, my swelling is almost completely gone and I can smile as big as I want! I had an ortho appointment yesterday, and he said “I think you’re about done,” which was music to my ears! I’ve only had my braces on for a year so I consider myself extremely lucky. Once again thank you for your time and dedication to this blog, and good luck to all who take on this journey as well. It is worth it!

    The very best to you,
    Leah Marie

    P.S. Awesome coincidence, I also lived in Thailand for 3 years from 2012-2015. I did my internship with a non-profit for 5 months, and then went back to teach early childhood at TCIS. I miss that beautiful country every day. It’s weird to think we may have crossed paths at one point across the world, who knows! I hope to go back as much as possible, Asia is just the best! Well take care and chok dee! 🙂

  3. Hey Graham, just curious – in your case, did your doctors smooth the tops of your front teeth caused by their failure to touch previously, or did they allow the their newfound ability to do that work themselves over time?

  4. Hello !
    I wanted to ask you if you notice some changes after a year. I am at one year post op and I still have some swelling, very minimal but still. Does it change a bit every year. Thank you.

    • Hi Stephanie,
      I had my surgery almost three years ago. I believe I have noticed changes when I compare the pictures of me in the last three years. But, I must say I have noticed the subtle changes more than anybody else.
      I think it is not so much the swelling, but the facial muscles are still in the process of settling in. During the operation, a doctor incised and lifted the face off the facial bones. In my case, the surgeon had to make 17mm of adjustment when the norm is about 5 mm. Thus, even now, I feel some of my facial muscles still have not found a place to re-attach themselves. My body is on the thinner type, but when I bend my head down a little bit, there is a small bump or fold on each side under my jaw line as if I have a double chin.
      I know that it is not simply my imagination because when I visited my eye-doctor. The distance between my pupils is 2-3 mm shorter than before. So, my face does get smaller or narrower than before. Once again, I am the only one conscious about these small changes.
      Best,
      Lan

  5. I am at 22 days post op. I had double jaw surgery for an Class3 undersite. My surgeon says the lopsidedness of my jaw line “is just my jaw line” and in 6months I can get plastic surgery if I wanted to. I thought it was only residual swelling. Here’s a pic. Any thoughts on this are helpful.

    • I couldn’t post a pic I don’t know how

    • Karen, the actual form of your jawbone will not be altered from surgery. As far as I understand, your surgeon can only change the alignment of your top and bottom jaw in relation to each other.

      Do you notice your jawline appearing more crooked now versus before surgery?

      You may also want to join the chat group and share a photo in there to see if anyone else felt this way during their first month of recovery. 😊

  6. Hi Graham,

    Just wanted to share this with you and others as I believe it may be helpful. I had double jaw surgery and am 18 months post-op. 6 months post-op I had to return to my surgeon to have one of the screws removed from my bottom right jaw as it was causing infection. The procedure went well, but it set me back, in that I was once again experiencing some numbness on the right lower lip and chin area. My bite re-opened on both sides (back molars were no longer touching), so my orthodontist put me in top/bottom retainers and elastics to help close my bite. In doing so, I had a lot of pressure in my top teeth. After seeing my surgeon again this past September, he had me stop wearing the bottom retainer. The pressure persisted in my teeth and the numbness remained in my lip/chin areas. The sensation behind my front teeth was not normal, nor was how the roof of my mouth felt when I ate anything. While at my chiropractor for neck adjustments, she talked to me about LLLT – Low Light Laser Therapy. I would strongly recommend people research this and access it if they are experiencing numbness and any other side effects from the double surgeries. After my 4th treatment, the pressure is totally gone from my teeth. My numbness is deminishing and I am regaining more feeling in my lip/chin area with each treatment. For me, my surgery experience has been a challenging one, not a lot of pain, but a lot of discomfort. I still don’t have normal sensation behind my front teeth or on the roof of my mouth, but am hopeful that with continued LLLT treatments, I will regain some normalcy. Thank you for your blog. It has always been a great help and I enjoy coming back to read what other’s are also posting about.

    • Debbie, it sounds like you’ve been through a lot, but I’m sure you are stronger because of it. Thanks for sharing your insight on LLLT as well. I’ve never heard of this treatment, but if it actually stimulates nerves to heal, that would be incredible! I wonder if it would have any success on someone like me who has had damaged nerves for several years… 😊

      • Hi Graham, LLLT is supposed to help cells regenerate. I have had approximately 8 treatments to date and I honestly believe that the sensation in my chin/lip is 50% better than it was before the treatment. The treatment was even done directly on my top teeth as that was where I had a lot of pressure. The pressure is 100% gone. Co-incidence? Timing? Would it have dissipated without the treatment? I credit the treatment. as up to that point, the pressure was driving me crazy 🙂 It is definitely worth looking into.

        • Very encouraging to hear! I’ll try to remember to share this with people when they ask about solutions to nerve damage in the future. Glad to hear about your positive experience with it!

  7. Hey guys! Just letting you know that I’m going to be getting surgery in 3 days! I’m really excited and just kind of wanna get it done. Any advice you can offer on how to get through the first few weeks?? Kinda nervous about the whole ordeal after reading some of these comments..😬

    • Lots of Pediasure, ice packs, and broth. Just make sure nothing is too hot or too cold when it goes in your mouth because it will be sensitive. I used plastic syringes you can get from the drug store to get it in my mouth. They work really well. Biggest thing is, don’t try to do too much too fast. My surgeon gave me excercises to do to help loosen it up. Make sure you do them if they give them to you. They will help a lot down the road. Make sure you have someone to help you for at the very least a few days. You won’t want to move much but you need to make sure you keep your nutrition up so your body can help you heal faster. Good luck! I remember how nervous I was going into it almost 8 years ago now. I think it was totally worth it and I hope you will too. Please come back and update us on how you are doing!

  8. Hello I think I have left a comment before just thought I would update you its been eight months after my double jaw surgery and my bottom half of my jaw is numb but I get my braces off in 39 days I am beyond excited I will have to wear a retainer but I could care less haha you blog helped me when recovering my surgery and I just wanna end with thank you very much!
    (P.S you look like James Franco and that is awesome)

    • Ondrea, glad to hear you’re nearly finished with this ordeal! Having your braces removed will be a liberating experience, I assure you. Just remember that your teeth will feel a bit slimy for the first few days!

      Also, sorry to hear you’re left with some permanent numbness. I can relate as a quarter of my lower lip and chin are numb as well. Your brain will adjust to the loss of feeling (if it hasn’t already) and it shouldn’t cause you any trouble in the future.

      Thanks for reaching out and enjoy your braceless smile in the new year! 😊

  9. Hey Great Blog I have done a double jaw surgery it’s now been nearly 5 years very happy also Numb I the left side of my lip down to chin but we get used to it. But sometimes my jaw has a little spasm was wondering wether you get that too ? It happens sometimes when I chew when I yawn or talk.

    • H, I don’t think jaw spasms are a normal thing years after surgery. I can’t think of any reasons your muscles would still be spasming, so you may want to call your surgeon’s office and ask if any other patients have ever mentioned this. Sorry I can’t be of any help here. 😊

    • I had double jaw surgery as well and thoughout my 5th-6th year I had that as well. It was only in my upper jaw right below my nostrils. I wouldn’t say it’s normal either but I never got it checked out. I haven’t had it happen in a couple years though. I am 8 years post op currently. The biggest thing I’ve had for the last couple of years is that when I yawn my jaw gets stuck which I think is a whole other issue. I think my teeth/jaw are moving again stemming from the amount of time I wore my retainer afterward. Don’t think I wore it long enough

      • Ah I see I wouldn’t say my sapsm are major it’s just sometimes I bite my lip or when I yawn or talk my teeth clash together. I still wear my retainers too once a week but never stop once we stop I think our teeth will start moving out of place. Thank you both for your feedback I will definitely try get in touch with my doctor as I was discharged two weeks ago silly of me not to bring it up I didn’t think it was a big deal.

  10. Hi, I had double jaw surgery 6 months ago & one side of my jaw is still locked. Is this something you experienced? I’m getting really worried as I’m due to go back to my orthodontist on the 13th December, but I really would like to know if it’s normal sooner than that, I tried looking on Google but no posts have given me the answers I needed..

    • Danielle, at 6 months post-op, you should have nearly all of your movement back. I’m not sure what would cause one side of your jaw to be immobile, but it may be something that can be remedied through certain exercises such as whistling, chewing gum throughout the day, etc. I recommend calling your surgeon’s office and asking them if other patients have experienced this in the past and how they solved the problem. Best of luck! 😊

  11. Hello,
    I have just come across this blog and it’s totally amazing. I wish I found this when going through my op. I am 3 years on from my Double Jaw Realignment.
    I have a quick question though? Recently my jaw has been aching quite a lot. I had this before and my surgeon just said it could be the plates adjusting. However, 3 years on you would hope everything is settled. I wear my retainer (not as often as I should!) so it can’t be my teeth. Have you had this at all? I’ve been dischargedoing by everyone now so it’s difficult to get back there.

    Thanks

    Meg Thomas

    • Meg, glad you like the blog! Personally, I haven’t felt any pain since the first 3 months of recovery (over 6 years ago), so I’m not sure what could be causing pain in your jaw. That sort of pain can be related to your body reacting to the titanium plates, but I think if that were the case, it would have happened years ago for you. The only thing I can think of is to either call your surgeon’s office and ask them if any other patients have returned years later with jaw pain or to visit your family doctor and see if they have any ideas. Sorry I can’t be more help here! 😊

  12. Good morning all. i am now 5 months post surgery and everything is going pretty well. i ate my first sub just the other day? yays as it is the thing ive been missing most lol. i am however still experiencing a lot of numbness around my upper lip and chin and on my lips. it often feels cold and wet and like im drooling when im not. did anyone else feel like this and when will it be normal again?

    • Marlana, try not to lose hope yet as it’s possible for feeling to return all the way up to the 6-month mark. That being said, many people are left with permanent numb patches, so if your feeling has not returned within the next month, that’s a good indicator that the numb areas are there to stay. Your body can usually adjust to them to the point where you don’t even remember you have these numb areas unless someone asks about them. Here’s to hoping the feeling still returns, though! 😊

  13. Hi Graham!
    First off I want to say your blog really helped me through my first few weeks recovering. You’ve really created something special here!
    Anyways I am 17, currently 3 months post operation, and everything is going great except for my lips! Before surgery I had pretty normal sized lips and liked the size of them. Now they look very swollen all the time and I dislike how they look from my head and side profile. I don’t think anything went wrong during surgery to make them bigger or anything.
    Did your lips look a lot bigger even after a few months after surgery? How long did it last? Or are they still big and I’m gonna have to live with it?
    I’ve kinda looked into plastic surgery to see it as a plausible choice but I’m still gonna give it time to see if they get any smaller, which I’m crossing my fingers that they will because they are at least twice the size of how they used to be. Some people even say they can’t recognize me which I find absurd but my lips did change a lot. Anyways that’s all I wanted to ask and I hope you are doing well,
    Harry

    • Harry, this surgery should honestly not affect the size of your lips, so if they still appear large, that can be due to either residual swelling or a perceived change in appearance. It may take up to 6 months for the entirety of your swelling to go away and for the parts of your face to “settle,” so try not to judge your appearance too much and don’t lose hope yet! 😊

  14. Great post, i been reading some blogs here and there about this and i might share my story as well i like yours since you still going at it helpingout people. I am in the US Military, been doing this for about 15 years and when i decide to put bracers o mn 2 years and 10 months ago they told me i would have to undergo this procedure and i never thought about until the day finally came which was 24-Oct-2016. Today is the 27th my face looks crazy and the pain is worst than what i thought i think today has been the worst day say so far as far as soreness and pain. The special thing about mine is that the Doctors that performed this might not be as experience as some that have been in the field for years i really dont know and didnt want to ask but they all looked kinda young. Anyways just been on the look out for my question as i go on this trip, i am 33 y/o and i hope its worth it at the end :).

    • Alpi, welcome to your first week of recovery! It is normal to feel some pain during the first couple weeks, but I think the most difficult part of these early days is simply how frustrating it is to not be able to eat and speak and perform everyday activities. Hang in there and you’ll be feeling much better by the beginning of the third week! 😊

  15. Hi Graham,

    I’ve really enjoyed your blog. I am actually 8 years post double jaw surgery. For the most part it has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I love the way it turned out. But I had some questions for you. I noticed you said that you still wear your retainer. How long did your ortho/surgeon tell you to wear it? I ask because mine said only 1 year after getting my braces removed and then I wouldn’t need to anymore. But now I’m noticing a slight shift (I believe it’s my lower jaw moving) and I’m wondering if maybe a year was not quite long enough. My surgeon also only asked for a 6 week post op and I never saw him again. Which has been fine up until about a month or so ago when I started having severe pain in my jaw accompanied by horrible migraines. It may not even be related, but the symptoms remind me of the TMJ symptoms I had prior to my treatment. I am planning on a trip to the doctor soon so I will let you know if it’s related.

    Sorry for the rant. I guess my question is how much followup did your ortho/surgeon require and we’re there any long term practices they wanted you to continue after followup was no longer required?

    • Hi Katie, nice to meet you!

      My orthodontist recommended I wear my retainer at least one night per week for the rest of my life and that’s what I’ve been doing. I am 6 years post-op and have not noticed my teeth shifting at all yet. I have a few friends who decided to stop wearing their retainer after a few years and their teeth are unfortunately quite crooked again. I doubt your retainer will still fit, but if it does, you may want to wear it one night per week.

      As for followup with my surgeon, I believe I last saw him 6 months after my surgery. My final appointment was nothing special and seemed to be more of a “just in case” meeting.

      If you’re experiencing severe pain and migraines all of a sudden, I would honestly recommend seeing a family doctor first as there are many things that can cause this. Given that the bones in your jaw would have been completely healed for many years now, I don’t think this pain would actually be related to your surgery, but I am also not a doctor.

      If you’re able to visit a doctor, please let me know what you learn. You’re the second person this week to mention jaw pain years after the surgery, so your experience might be able to help others.

      Take care for now and looking forward to hearing what your doctor says. I hope the pain goes away, truly! 😊

  16. Hey! You were very helpful for me during and before my surgery in 2011. Everything is good but just this week my jaw seems kind of sore. My dad asked me recently too to check in with my surgeon (he said my surgeon had told them to have me do so a few years post-op) what would you suggest? Have you checked in just to make sure everything is good? Thanks.

    p.s. I kind of forgot about my blog until reading your post now haha oops

    • Emily, the last time I saw my surgeon was 6 months after surgery. I wouldn’t think your surgery is influencing soreness in your jaw 5 years later, but I’m also not a doctor. There are many reasons your jaw could be sore, such as jarring it or swollen glands around your jawline. I would see if the soreness goes away within the next week, and if not, perhaps call your surgeon to ask if they’ve had other patients experiencing soreness years after having surgery. I hope you’re feeling better soon! 😊

  17. Hello Graham and Fellow-Jaw Heroes,
    I haven’t checked your webpage since my two-year-and-half ago jaw surgery. I am glad that you are back because your site is the treasure trove for those going to have this procedure.
    I also have numb patches in my upper right lip and lower right chin. It took longer to eat than before. Some former acquaintances do not recognize me until when they hear my voice. My face must have changed a lot because my current PD (pupillary distance–a measure for glasses) is 4 mm shorter than the pre-surgery PD. I found out about this when I needed to have a new pair of glasses. According to my surgeon, in most of the cases, doctors need to adjust and move around a total of 8 mm of jaw bones. He had to do 17 mm for my case. I was in a surgery room two hours longer than what the surgeon originally booked with the hospital. So, it should not be a surprise that my face changed.
    It was an expensive surgery and a time consuming process before and after the surgery. But, it was a worthwhile endeavor. I used to have migraine every week before the surgery; now I haven’t had a migraine for two and half years.
    Thank you, Graham, to keep this page alive!
    Lan

    • Lan, thanks for sharing your story, I really appreciate it. It’s great to hear that your migraines are a thing of the past and that, despite some of the changes, you’re still happy you took this step. Your experience goes to show that there are certainly risks with this surgery, so to anyone who is thinking of moving forward with it, make sure the pros outweigh the cons for you. 😊

  18. Hi Graham, interesting blog. I as well had double jaw surgery about 15 months ago. The first month or two after the surgery was pure hell, and I certainly had regrets about what I had done to myself. In fact I wondered if it was all worth it until just recently.

    BUT my teeth are now all straight, and they fit together properly due to the jaw reassignment. The long term negative is that my lower lip and chin area is all quite numb, just like you have mentioned. It bothers me sometimes… but more and more, I don’t think about it.

    I am really hoping that after a few more years, maybe the numbness will go down a little bit. I am aware by now that all or most numbness will remain for life though. My ortho surgeon had assured me that I’d get all my feeling back, so that part was a huge disappointment. I was expecting a better result. But again, overall I am still happy I went through the whole thing.

    Cheers, and thanks for the blog.

    • Mark, thanks for reaching out! It sounds like our experiences were very similar. As far as I understand, surgeons cannot promise all feeling will return because they do have to move nerves around during the surgery, but as with many things in the medical field, experiences vary based on the actual surgeon. It’s good to hear your results are still an improvement and I hope your nerves do wake up at some point in the near future. Take care! 😊

    • Hi Mark, I had double jaw surgery in 2015 and again in January of 2016 to remove hardware in my lower right jaw due to infection. I was still experiencing some numbness in my chin and lower lip (right side), so I went to my Chiropractor and started having a type of acupuncture – using cold lasers – done in the area that was numb and the numbness is going away. Would be worth your while to look into it. I spoke to my surgeon prior to starting the treatment and he strongly encouraged me to try it and asked that I let him know the results.
      Debbie

  19. Hey Graham.

    Delighted to hear everything is going great in life, long may it continue! 🙂

    I’m now 7 months post-op and things are good, I have a little concern though, which hopefully you can help with / advise.

    I might need to fly in the next month or 2, but I’m worried about severe pressure build-up in my teeth / gums due to cabin pressure. Sometimes I randomly get a pressure buildup (nothing too bad) mainly in my 2 front teeth, and almost always get it if I bend over / down to the floor. Do you think this is likely to be a lot worse when flying?

    Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks,

    Callum.

    • Callum, glad to hear things are going well and that the surgery is now in your past. As for flying, you should be alright to do so at this point. Your bone is now as strong as it was before, so the aircraft cabin pressure should not really affect you. If the pressure buildups you mentioned are painful, you may want to confirm this by calling your surgeon’s office and briefly asking for their okay to flying. 😊

  20. Today marks day 10 after double jaw surgery to correct my overbite.
    I’m still at the stage where I’m wondering if any of this was worth it?
    I’m swollen, tired, hungry and miserable and would love to go back two weeks and not have the surgery.
    People keep telling me it’ll be worth it but I’m struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel!
    In an attempt to be normal yesterday I sat at the dinner table with my family and ‘ate’ some mash potato and salmon. This resulted in me over stretching my jaw, 2 elastics snapped and I was in the emergency department having them replaced last night 🙁
    My jaw is now extra tight and sore!

    • Ah, so that’s how your elastics snapped! The initial weeks of recovery are really frustrating, so try to remember that you’ll soon be back to regular life and this will quickly become a distant memory. Hang in there and make sure to use this “forced downtime” to catch up on any books and movies you’ve been missing. 😊

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