- Oral Health
My Experience with Corrective Jaw Surgery
I just heard that Bristol Palin had a corrective jaw surgery.. Boy, does that bring up memories for me! I had corrective jaw surgery years ago. I don't know if hers was as extensive as mine but either way, it's a life altering experience. Anyway, for all who are interested, I am happy to share my story with you.
I had my jaw surgery, more technically termed orthognathic surgery, when I was 14 years old. It was really rough to go through but It was one of the best things my parents have ever done for me. My dad said when I was around 3 years old that they began to notice I had a little bit of an overbite. I assume they probably blew it off figuring it may get better but it just continued to get worse. My top teeth jutted outward, my upper jaw overlapped my bottom jaw considerably and to top it off, I didn't have much of a chin.
The main thing I remember about those years is how cruel the kids were and how much it hurt my heart to have to go to school every day. I can't even tell you how many times I heard the names "bucky bess", "buck teeth" and "bucky". Even my younger sister would tease me. It was really lonely, as I didn't have many friends. The kids would point and whisper, nobody picked me to be on their team.. you know how it goes. Kids can be so cruel. Still to this day it makes me sad to think of those experiences.
I had to go through a couple years of getting all my baby teeth pulled in order to get all my permanent teeth in and finally when I was 12 years old I got my braces on! The plan was to get my teeth in order with the braces and then move on to the surgery. So it finally came time to get my surgery to fix the overbite or more technically termed malocclusion. I actually got lucky and the oral surgeon that I went to referred me to Dr. Bell who was located in Dallas with the University of Texas Health Science Center. My surgery would be a "teaching" type surgery and many doctors in training would attend and I was also told my pictures (before and afters, pictures during the surgery) would appear in medical books! We had to make a couple trips to Dallas to see this doctor to get prepared for this surgery. There were many pictures taken of me during this whole process and many questions that first visit. It was determined that the surgery was medically necessary because of my troubles with not being able to eat properly and things like that so I was blessed that my mothers insurance paid a good portion of it.
The day finally came and I was on my way to Dallas for the actual surgery. I remember getting to Parkland Hospital and checking in. That night they actually let me have a pizza delivered to my hospital room since I wasn't going to be eating anything solid for quite some time. I had NO idea what I was in for! The surgery started very early the next morning. I don't remember anything up until I woke up in recovery 14 hours later. I remember them saying something about taking a tube out and feeling something slide up out of either my nose or my throat and I gagged but realized I couldn't move my mouth. Then I remember a nice nurse wiping my lips off with a cold, wet cloth. I was still really groggy and looking back I'm not sure exactly when but some time after,maybe even the next day or so, I remember them wheeling me to my room and stopping for a second because my dad was there in the hallway. I remember him saying something to me and then walking off and then I heard him sobbing.
A while after that, after I got to my room and had settled in, I began to feel nauseous and immediately started vomitting. My mom ran out of the room for a nurse. My jaws were wired shut so it was kinda scary but it all came out my nose and it was ok. It was mainly blood that had gotten into my stomach during surgery. My mom and the nurse came running in and got me all cleaned up. Thank goodness this was the only time I remember vomiting with my jaws wired shut!
Illustrations of the Jaw
I remember my room really well. They had what looked like some sort of wire cutters taped to the wall next to my bed and I remember sharing my room with a lady who had her arm hung in a sling from a pole. Apparently the lady had told my mom she had some sort of infection in her arm. My mom was a nurse and knew the risk of transferring that infection over to me, being in the same room so she asked to have me moved which they did. I remember some time later they took the catheter out and I felt the need to go and use the restroom. Aside from being weak I also had a huge pressure sore on my heal from being in the same position for the entire surgery so I needed help to get to the bathroom. So as they were helping me up out of bed they were warning me about my appearance and saying that I should wait a while to look at myself in the mirror. I was still curious about what I looked like and didn't think much of what they were saying until I actually did look in the mirror. It was quite a shock and it took a minute to realize it was even me I was looking at. My head was very swollen, my lips were crusted and bloody (from being dried out during the surgery), there were bandages all around my head, neck and chin and I had two black eyes. I looked like I had been hit by a truck or something!
I was in the hospital about a week and they let me go home. It was a rough ride back home but we made it. That next 7 weeks were absolutely torture! I felt like I would starve to death. I had to eat with a syringe with a small tube on it. My jaws were wired so tight that I could barely get that small tube in the space behind my molars in the back of my mouth. My meals consisted of thinned out liquids and eventually I just stuck with chocolate milk since it was the only thing that even tasted right. I had a couple of fainting spells during those 7 weeks, I guess just from lack of solid food.
On two occasions soon after I got back home from having the surgery, I woke at night panicking because I could hardly breathe through my nose and had to rush to the ER. The reason was because of gross, sticky mucous and chunks of blood that was still draining and clotting from the surgery. They had to push soaked gauze way up into my nose and pull it back out (along with all the gross stuff) in order to clear my nose so I could breathe properly. From then on I had to clean my nose daily with saline spray. My jaws were wired somehow with a plastic white mouthpiece between my top and bottom teeth sort of like a mouthpiece for football players. They had wires weaved up through my braces through that piece very tight (and also internal wires that ran up into the bones of my face up toward my cheeks) so I couldn't breathe at all through my mouth.
I finally made it to the day I got my jaws un-wired along with taking the plastic splint out from between my bite. It was a piece of cake though it felt very weird to be able to open my mouth again- it's almost like I had to relearn how to open my mouth but it felt so good to be able to breathe through my mouth again. Soon after that I had to go to have the internal wires that ran up through my facial bones to my cheeks removed. They literally had to be "jerked" out and that was pretty painful but the doctor was very satisfied with the outcome and so was I.
Basically what they did during the surgery was they went in and "broke" my bottom jaw and took bone from my right hip to reconstruct it and extend it to match the top one and also from what I understand, did some "breaking" and reconstruction of the top jaw and facial bones connecting everything back together with 30 screws and 9 plates (or 9 plates and 30 screws-can't remember!) and I also got a chin implant.
By the time I got my jaws unwired I was 15 years old which started a whole new journey in my life with a whole new set of challenges- having such low self esteem yet starting to get a lot of new attention mainly from the opposite sex due to the onset of puberty. It was kind of a recipe for disaster but I'll get into that in another hub :0) Looking back I do wish I could have gone to counseling after the surgery to help me adjust to the major change that had taken place in my life especially at that critical age of 15.
Even though it was quite a lot to go through, I would do it all over again in a second. It was all completely worth it-every single bit of it. Looking back on all this, I feel the need to seriously thank my mom and dad for having this surgery done for me and for being there for me during that time. I can not imagine how my life would be if I had not had it done.
I will add some before and after pictures to this hub as soon as I can find some... Thank you for reading :)
A Fellow Hubbers Experience with Jaw Surgery
- Corrective Jaw Surgery Procedure
These are the highlights of my jaw surgery regarding the hospital stay and my recovery time at home. Symptoms after surgery included excessive swelling, weight loss and pain. Different aspects of the day of surgery are addressed to provide the reader