Old Face / New Face [a comparison of jaw surgery]

For those who are just joining the story now, I had a severe Class III maloclussion [underbite] for most of my life, which was finally corrected by jaw surgery the day before New Year’s Eve last year. Talk about a rough way to end 2009 or to start 2010. Luckily, I have very supportive family and friends, and I made it through all of that. Jaw surgery was considered medically necessary because of just how far apart my teeth were. I had an open bite, and really none of my teeth touched when I ate. I don’t know HOW I survived the 28 years prior to surgery.

The surgeon widened the upper jaw and cut out a piece of the lower jaw and moved it back. Not a pretty surgery to imagine. I was banded shut with a splint for about six weeks before I was allowed to get off the liquid diet and start feeling “normal” again.

I have waited long enough to put the side-by-side comparison of the side view on the internet, so here it is:

Before After

Please excuse the extremely frazzled look due to lack of sleep. I schedule my orthodontist appointments for the morning, so I don’t have to take off too much time from work.

I’ve said goodbye to the old and am getting accustomed to the new. After eating solid foods since mid-February and exercising for the last three weeks, I have to come to terms that this is probably what my face will look like for the long haul [plus a few extra wrinkles and gray/white hair when I’m older]. I have the same prominent jaw line and tiny titanium screws in my face!

It’s interesting how jaw surgery changed the face shape completely simply by moving the jaw back. Very little will change from this point forward other than regaining feeling in parts that are still numb. I’ll be able to open my mouth wider and wider as time goes on.

I think I will cross this off the 101 in 1001 when I’m finally done with the braces too. It’s all just a part of the process, just like dealing with the hospital’s red tape – scheduling drama, billing, etc.

020 – Document jaw surgery. Before and after.

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  • Glad you are through the painful and hard and not-speaking parts!

    • I couldn’t have gotten through it without the support of you and everyone else. :D THANK YOU.

  • That is great that you were able to get – and are done with – the surgery! Good for you, girl!!!

    • Thanks, Angela! :) Yeah, it’s funny when I look back on this whole process. What a worthwhile headache!

  • Hey congratulations! Profile looks great!

    • Hey Zach! :) Thanks a lot. Hopefully I’ll see you soon.

  • :) happy for you

  • Wow it must be an amazing feeling to be able to chew easily now! You look great, and I can’t imagine what that liquid diet has done for you! hahaha

    • Thanks, Kelly! Yeah, it’s good to actually eat again. I was fine with the liquid diet for a little bit, but when it got up to more than a month, I started getting frustrated with the whole situation.

      • The liquid diet is the roughest part! I’m 3 weeks post-op and I’ve already lost 15 lbs – no small feat considering I was 5’8″ and only 115 to begin with. I’m getting really sick of soup and smoothies, but it’s 100% worth it!

  • Anonymous

    Whoa. That must’ve been really really painful. Glad it’s over. And you look great. ;)

  • You look fantastic! I had a really similar surgery for a Class III – no palate expansion, but I had my upper jaw moved forward about 3mm and my lower back about 5mm. I read your post “Goodbye Old Face”, and this paragraph,

    “For many years, I’d avoid such photos or delete them because they were awfully unflattering. While others just accepted that as part of me, it was definitely a part of my self-esteem issues. I didn’t like those pictures of myself AT ALL.”

    rang completely true to me. And it spread to regular interactions as well – not only do I have a large amount of my most memorable/important moments undocumented because of my prior hatred of pictures, but I also used to cover my mouth when I smiled/talked/laughed, and alwys be paranoid if anyone was even *looking* at me from the side. And yeah, half the people in my life said it wasn’t really noticeable to them unless I brought it up/emphasized it…

    But words can’t really describe how badly hating your own smile can pull a number on you. I’ve struggled with severe depression since I was a kid – not just because of this, but it was a big part of it – and having the surgery really felt like a weight off my shoulders – and off my skull, since it physically felt like my lower jaw was so heavy it was tugging apart my TM joint!. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

    • Thank you, Alison! Your comments really mean a lot to me. I’ve been surprised at how many people actually get the surgery because not very many talk about it day to day. But when I was wired shut, others would mention someone they knew who got the surgery, and it’s just so common. I wondered if they all felt self-conscious like I did about my profile.

      Definitely drink your nutrients, so you don’t lose much more weight! I’m 5’10” and started at 125. I managed to only go down to about 117 at my lowest weight. I’m back up to 120 and am working on gaining more.

  • No problem! And same here, actually – I’ve been a bit embarrassed to talk about it IRL because I don’t like going through the long explanation of how it’s NOT exactly plastic surgery, and while there is an aesthetic benefit, it’s still medical and blah blah blah! But it’s funny – as I let out little bits and pieces of what I’m going through to a few friends (I’ve mostly stayed a social hermit throughout my recovery and unlike you I don’t have a boyfriend or a really close supportive network), everyone seems to know someone who’s had similar surgery! It is weird.

    I can’t believe you only lose 8 lbs! You obviously did a much better job… I’m a really picky eater – I don’t like dairy or anything that even tastes milky, so I’m not into the nutritional drinks like Boost and Ensure – I think they’re gross, so I’m pretty much stuck to soup and smoothies with a bit of protein powder. Just 1 more week! ahhh!

    • The VitaMix my parents have probably saved me a lot of hassle. It blends EVERYTHING into liquid. Veggies were the easiest, but we also had meat blended as well. It ends up being this extremely savory soup, lots of nutrients too.

      One more week? That’s cake! It’ll go by before you know it! :)

  • Wow — you are so brave! Good for you!

    I also had an underbite… I would have had to undergo the same surgery, but instead I wore a retainer throughout my kindergarten year. And it was fixed!

    Funny thing is, every once in a while, I wonder what my face would have looked like if I didn’t have my bite corrected at such a young age…

    • Unfortunately, it couldn’t be fixed by just a retainer. My jaw was more of the issue, rather than the teeth. :( You’re lucky you didn’t have to go through any of that!

      • Mine couldn’t, either. I never actually had braces before my surgery – I only have the surgical ones now that got put on while I was on the table, with the bands to keep my jaws shut – because my teeth were actually straight and grew in the right position. I saw an orthodontist once about the underbite when I was about 12 and he gave me this thing to wear called a chin cup to try and curb the growth of my mandibular, but it didn’t work. Ended up having my lower jaw moved back about 5-6mm, upper forward 3mm.

  • Anonymous

    wow, even though I see you in person I can’t believe the difference in the photos!

  • Mayy

    Hi :) you don’t know me but I found out a few months ago that I will be needing the same surgery as you in order to solve my class III jaw problem and that I will not be able to start the process until I am at least 17 ( I am 16 next month). I’ve done lots of reseach about the surgery and braces and I would like to thank you for sharing your experience :). It is really inspirational and has made it much easier for me to understand and, in a way, feel good about myself. It has also showed me the reality of the surgery and the drastic change in appearance after the surgery. You look FANTASTIC by the way and I am glad you are happy with the results as you look absolutely brilliant :) xo

    • Mayy, thank you for leaving your comment! It really reinforces why it’s important to write about such experiences because there are tons of people out there facing the same thing. I’m glad my blog has been helpful to you, and if you have any questions about my experience or what you will potentially experience, just leave me a message! :)

      My jaw kept growing when I was a teenager, so it was important to wait until everything had settled. You don’t want to get the surgery only to have it grow back. I really do hope you let me know how it goes! And of course, happy early birthday.

  • sewa mobil

    wow,it is an amazing transformation face ever i see before.
    great news and thanks.

  • Amazing transformation, you look great!–Meliha

  • anne

    i’m so happy for you, becuase i’m getting the same problem just like u. seen childwood.It is very difficult to deal with when u in a middle of a crowd. All of them would look at u and laught or tease. .

  • Eric F.

    Yikes, I didn’t even realize you had this surgery. I noticed a difference in appearance a while ago but didn’t think much past it.

    So it appears to have worked out nicely for you in the long run, even if the process was very stressful.

    Thanks for putting all of this out there. It’s interesting because I work in the field of dentistry/orthodontics (working on comptuers/x-ray machines) but I rarely see a detailed view of the patient’s perspective.

    I also need to have a similar surgery some day. If I ever talk myself into it I’ll be sure to read all of these posts again.

    P.S. – You look great!

    • Thanks so much! :-) It’s definitely a surgery worth having if it is covered by insurance. There are plenty of risks with any surgery, but I think it’s one that is done frequently enough that the doctors who perform the surgery are all pros, and the outcome usually positive. If you have other questions about it, feel free to email me!