Monday, February 22, 2010

Jaw Surgery - recovery pictures

During my surgery recovery process I've been taking pictures of myself with either my blackberry or photobooth, just for myself or my family to see the changes. But I've decided I have the guts to share them with the world. I've been looking at some other people's blogs online (just google jaw surgery). It's amazing the support people are getting from each other, reading what the experience is like and seeing pictures of others' progress. If I can be of help to someone in this way, I want to be!

I've already written about my 2 surgeries in the blog. One was a rapid palate expansion in March 08, and the other was lower jaw augmentation + chin reshaping which happened 19 days ago. Just click the label "surgery" at the end of this post to read all of them. If you have any questions or concerns about your jaw surgery that I might be able to help with, just comment on this post. My jaw surgery was fairly minor compared to what some other people have had done, but I'll pass on any advice I have!

OK so onto the pictures...

Summer 2007, before I had ANYTHING. No braces, no surgery yet.

Summer 2008. Braces on for one year, surgically-assisted upper palate expansion finished. You can see how much wider my smile is, but check out that overbite!

Feb 3/10, Mom & I right before I went into surgery... last time with my old smile!

Jaw X-Ray
X-Ray... on the LEFT is post-surgery, on the RIGHT is before I had surgery. Not a huge difference... lower jaw came forward 5mm, chin went down 2mm. And 2 top wisdom teeth came out.

Feb 3/10, a few hours after surgery. Not impressed. Check out the spit/blood sucker!

Feb 4/10, one day after surgery. Oxygen = easy breathing. Ice packs = help with swelling and feels so good. Mom kept these on me every night for like 5 days after surgery, which REALLY helped the swelling go down much faster than normal. The doctors couldn't BELIEVE it. Look how drugged I look haha.

Feb 5/10 - holy swelling!!!! This is as big as I got. Check out the double chin. This was the day I was discharged (2 nights in hospital, could have only been 1 but I opted to stay). We are at the hotel here. This 2 days before the hell of nausea broke out.

Feb 10/10, at the hotel. Swelling down considerably. On this day I went to a movie with Mom and to Jolene's for supper, so I was feeling alright!

Feb 17/10, 2 weeks after surgery. Looking almost normal! Lip is still fat and still some swelling around the jaw. Oh yeah I'm home now. Also I am eating pasta and cake normally, no blender for soft stuff!

Feb 17/10 again. My elastics kept breaking so I went to the orthodontist and they gave me a big bag of them, I wear a triangle on each side and change them every night.

Feb 22/10, 19 days since surgery. Feeling is SLOWLY coming back to my lower lip and chin, still some swelling of my lower lip so my smile still looks weird to me. But if you didn't know me beforehand you wouldn't know I had surgery! I ate chicken stirfry tonight with a roll, yogurt with blueberrys for dessert, and I chewed the works of it! No pain at all.

That's it! When my braces are OFF I'll have to post pics from beginning to end. It's about a 3 year process by the time it's all done. Nuts! Hope you weren't too scared by the pics!

Update: September 2010
I am all done! Goodbye braces, hello retainers! :)


Jennifer said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jennifer! I just had reduction of the angle of the mandible and masseter muscle jaw surgery, and my head is in a brace. Here I am, 5 days after surgery Googling
"jaw reduction surgery swelling" for some sort of hope, some sort of an idea of the timeline I am looking at because this healing process, as I'm sure you know, is very, very taxing. And here it is, you've documented your process in pictures! Right up until today!!

I know our surgeries are a bit different and that even if they were the same, people heal differently, but still you have no idea how helpful this was and I wanna thank you for putting these out there on your blog, and - oh yeah! - your mama has a foxy haircut. Why don't you tell her I said that;)


Another Jennifer.

Jen said...

Hey, no problem! I remember especially the first week after surgery I felt so hopeless and terrible... it DOES get better I promise! And it's worth it in the end, even one week from now you'll feel a million times better.

Yeah my Mom's pretty hot haha. I'll give her your compliments!

Jennifer said...

One more thing: I experienced nausea today as well. I had hoped that this was something that could be avoided, but your experience makes me not so sure. The rather rapid weight loss has been a little concerning... 5 pounds so far in 5 days.

Jen said...

For the nausea I needed to get gravol suppositories. Kinda awkward but they WORK. The nausea for me was worse than the surgery, I was supposed to be directed to get gravol when I left the hospital but it slipped the mind of my resident (my doctor was NOT pleased). Watch the hard drugs too, they make you sick.

That sucks about the weight loss... how are you getting food in? I used a syringe the first few days. You can get them at a drugstore. I drank the Boost "plus calories" to help maintain weight... I only ever lost 7 lbs and am maintaining that now.

Jennifer said...

Hey Jennifer,

I am going to get the "Boost Plus Calories" tomorrow. I have been on Ensure since the surgery but I've had zero appetite today after throwing up for the first time. Were you on antibiotics? I've had to take them 2-3 times a day.

Jen said...

Yup I had hardcore anti-inflammatory stuff every 12 hours, and liquid morphine every 12 hours. I got sick 4 days after surgery, at which point I stopped taking both of those. I stuck with liquid tylenol (switched to pills once I could get them in) and took gravol to sleep at night. The nausea wasn't worth the meds!

After I threw up I blended wheat thins with G2 gatorade fruit punch. It really calmed my acidic stomach, plus G2 has electrolytes which you should replace after throwing up. My Mom's a nurse so she knew what to do haha. And it tasted good!

Jennifer said...

My mom is taking care of me as well. We're making note of the fact that the swelling seemed to go down really fast when you guys used ice packs every night. We've only been cycling for about 15 minutes twice a day. We're going to boost that number to help the swelling go down faster.

Regarding the Boost, I think we'll pick up some up tomorrow. Is there chocolate flavour any good?

Jennifer said...

I WISH I could have crackers! I was told ONLY mushy-mushy foods, like baby food. My surgery was quite extreme, they recommend the face brace for me for the first two weeks.

Jen said...

Yeah all 3 flavors are good! Just beware to not drink too many milk-things esp if your dairy tolerance is low like me. I think that made me partly sick too.

For the first week I went to bed with the ice packs on and woke up with them still on. And then sometimes when I was just lying there I'd have em on for like 30min.

That's too bad about the brace... can you put crackers in a blender with juice? I drank mine in a cup :)

Jennifer said...

I was just doing research on "Boost."

I can't take anything that has very much Vitamin C because the acidity will aggravate nausea (actually, the nurse thinks my throwing up today was directly related to the vitamin C supplement I took IN ADDITION to my Ensure drinks yesterday). So I have to have a meal replacement which has both no dairy and little vitamin C. This "Resource" drink looks like a good bet... plus, according to the chart, it's supposed to taste better.

Jen said...

Another option might be Carnation Breakfast Anytime. Just make it with whole milk to help with your weight.

Jennifer said...

I'm sitting here, icepack in gloved hand (lol) trying to bring down the swelling. I think I will get some rest though. Week 1... you just NEVER seem to get enough sleep!

Thanks for all your help though. I can only pray that with the right steps, I'm looking less like the nutty professor and like a normal person again by the 19th day, too! lol

Tasha said...

You've made so much progress! May you continue to heal (and eat well)!

Anonymous said...

I had a huge underbite and had my bottom jaw reduced and my top jaw brought forward and down. It is eight days from the surgery and so far my results are very similiar to Jennifer's. The pain has become minimal and swelling has greatly decreased. My doctor was very impressed with the progress so far. I have lost 11 pounds in eight days. I think a great tribute to my success is Carnation instant breakfast milkshakes everyday and constant icing. The bags that are in jennifer's pictures work the best and can be easily tied to stay in place around your head. I sleep with fresh ones on every night. I have been eating pastas and other soft foods. My advice would be to stay away from things like Mac and Cheese. Although it is easy to eat and tasty, it gets stuck in your braces very easily and is hard to get out. Jello also becomes a mess. Since your bottom lip is numb you often dont notice it running down your chin and onto your clothes. Keep plenty of napkins nearby.
For keeping your mouth clean the first few days before you can brush your teeth i suggest using a solution of 50/50 hydrogen peroxide and water. Swish it around your mouth but DO NOT swallow it. Your teeth feel a whole lot cleaner afterwards. I ll post again in another week or so.

Jen said...

Thanks for posting your story! Wishing you all the best as you recover. I should do another update post about my recovery actually... things are going GREAT except that my lower lip is still numb :(

Trina M said...

Thank you for posting your story. I just got home from the hospital with my 13-year-old son who had his SARPE this morning. His surgeon was able to do it as an outpatient surgery. The ice packs seem to have the greatest affect on his pain. He had Lortab in the hospital right before discharge, but still complained of pain. At the moment he is sitting semi-reclined in the Laz-Z-Boy with a package of whole kernal corn on each cheek. The surgeon said the swelling would be the worst part and would start about 24 hours after surgery. He also said that ice was the best way to keep it down.
Ive been keeping pictures of him before and after so I can see the difference.
He also seems to metabolize the medications much quicker than I thought. He was already "waking up" from the lidocaine they pumped into the lower half of his face when I was able to see him post-op, approximately 30 minutes after surgery. I thought it would last longer. The surgeon said he thought Alex would be numb for about 8 hours after, not being able to feel anything at all. He still has that punched swollen look and there is excessive drooling, but nothing a brand new roll of heavy duty paper towels wont fix.
This surgery was the first stage of 4 years of treatment. The next step is braces. The final step wont be until he is 16 or 17 when they fix the severe angle of his lower jaw. At the moment it points down from his joint to the tip if his chin at approx 45 degrees.
Thank you for all the helpful information youve posted. I will definitely be checking back for more advice.
Trina M, Olathe, Kansas

Jen said...

Thank you everyone for the comments! I decided I'd post another little update on how I am doing... you can read that here:

KillCloud9 said...

oh my gosh! thank you so much for these pictures. I just got my jaw surgery a couple days ago and am finally home. really encouraging to know I won't look like a water melon for the rest of my life!:)
you look fantastic!

Benson said...

Hey Jen, I just had to check out your most popular blog for November! Woot!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jen,
I just got my jaw surgery two days ago..and am REALLY not impressed! I'm 17 years old, and trust me, when I say that looking in the mirror is the most awful experience EVER. I have about 3 chins, a masssiiive headache, pain from my neck to my ears and I can't open my mouth AT ALL.:( Please please please tell me it gets better!

Jen said...

I promise you it gets better, as you probably already know by now :) It can be pretty overwhelming the first few days especially if you didn't psyche yourself up for it ahead of time. Just rest, sleep, and keep ice on it! After a few weeks make sure you start doing the exercises like they tell you to, and you'll get your mouth back to normal opening levels :)

Anonymous said...

Hello Jen,, Im a bit older than most here, 35, but neverless i had upper and lower jaw done and had my chinn moved 4MM.. I had this one Tue Dec 28th, now its Jan 1st and starting to think this is the worse decision i have ever made. Swelling, pain and drooling everywhere. but either way Its good to see that I am not alone and things do get better. I am eating soups and Ensure,. lost about 4 lbs so far and have no desire to eat yet.. I see everyone talking abouit ICE.. I was told by my Dr ice the first 24 hours and then a warm heat? which is it? Im lost i need the swelling to go down so i will stop scaring my kids..LOL Much thanks for any info.

Jen said...

I promise you it's not the worst decision you ever made, although it can feel like that sometimes while going through recovery. You had both jaws done, I only had the lower, so your recovery time is going to be longer. I don't know why they told you to put heat on... whenever there is swelling, cold makes it go down. I had ice on 24/7 for like the first week and the doctors couldn't believe how fast it went down. They didn't tell me to do this, but my Mom is a nurse and she did it anyway, and it worked! If I were you, I would ice it regularly. I hope it goes down and the pain lessens soon! Don't be afraid to take all they gave you to take, just be aware of how your stomach feels.... for food, I started blending whatever the heck I wanted, from lasagna to cookies and milk :)

Good luck! Feel free to e-mail me ( if I can help at all!

Anonymous said...

Its me again. I have started useing Ice instead of heat. The Dr told me to use a RICE sock, tossed in the microwave,, it feels great but has done nothing for the swelling.. how often should i keep the ice on? I go back to the Dr for my post op in the morning. Maybe he can answer a few questions I (my wife) has, How long will i keep droooling all over the house and when can i hold food in my mouth and the biggest thing is when can i kiss my wife again. When should i start to see some decrease in the swelling area. I have swelling and turned blue all the way down my neck and down to my chest. Only thing new is now i chaged colors again from blue to purple and yellow.. at least thats some thanks for the feed back and the email address. I will let ya know how the visit goes. ..

Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer!

I need to have jaw surgery and the orthodontist is really pressuring me into getting it done this august. I wanted to get it done in February 2011 because i won't have school anymore so that means i'd have all the time in the world to recover. I don't want to have the surgery done in august and then have to go back to school in september and face everyone there when i look all weird. or do you look somewhat normal after a month? Any advice? I'm really freaking out here!

Jen said...

Hi Anon,

Honestly I would definitely have the surgery in August. You will look VERY close to normal after a month. You can see in my pics that after 19 days I look pretty much the same as before! And you cannot get braces removed until 6 months following surgery. So getting the surgery earlier = saving money and time. If you do, it's possible that by February 2012 your braces will be coming off!

Good luck :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advice =) .. I'm going to see the surgeon soon to get a bit more info but i really appreciate your help. I feel a lot better now.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

So great to read about your experience. Just wondering if you have any permanent numbness from either surgeries? Thanks!!

Jen said...

Hi another anon :)
The first surgery there was no numbness because no nerves had to be cut. For the second one, they said I'd eventually get all feeling back... as of now, 13 months post op, there is still some numbness right in the middle of my bottom lip and chin. I believe it's continually getting smaller, so let's hope it eventually goes away! They said it could be up to 2 years. Usually if there's permanent damage they'll tell you, and they didn't tell me.

Emi said...

Thank you so much :) I'm 14 and scared to DEATH but you really made this alot easier to handle thank you!

Anonymous said...

i've just come out of hospital didn't wanna leave still can't eat or drink properly even with straws and suringes! but thanks to this i know it'll be worth while by over bite was 17mm pretty big but just 1 question did your lip feel itchy at all? i forgot to ask while there but i dont know if feeling is trying to return or what but it gets really itchy and when i go to scratch it i can't feel it... did that happen to you too? (reply to my msn put subject as jaw so i know thanks)

Reshenthi said...

Hi Jen, thanks for your story it gives me hope, I'm on day 13 after the lower jaw and chin surgery and struggling with nausea, first constipation and from yesterday a runny tummy. Thanks for posting your story and pics, I just wanted to read that it's all going to be okay. My lower lip/chin is itchy and still sore. How long did you take pain meds for? It doesn't help that I experience almost all the side effects for the pain meds. So desperate to feel normal again.
South Africa

Jen said...

Hey Reshenthi! I didn't take the pain mess for very long. 5 days after surgery I got violently ill from them so I quit cold turkey and stuck to Tylenol. Mine didn't hurt per say, it was just uncomfortable. Itchiness is good, it means feeling is coming back! It'll gradually get better :) Hang in there!

BraceGirl Kate said...

I've seen your piccies on here and I've read on the risks of numbness and the rare case it's permitted (I'm 21 and really scared)
Can you shed anylight on this????
I'm having my Bottom jaw done and wanted to be clued up on the after surgery then during LOL

Hope you still post on here Jennifer

Jen said...

Hey BraceGirl Kate, yes I do still post on here :) There is a risk of numbness because they do cut your nerves when they do the surgery. For me right now, 19 months after surgery, there is a tiny bit of numbness in the middle of my bottom lip. I usually forget it's there, except sometimes when I drink a Tim Hortons coffee if I'm not careful I spill some. It is really minor, and I would rather have this than have the jaw I had before. Hope this is encouraging for you! Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

hey, i had my operation for my jaw on the 1st september 2011 and still don't feel my bottom lip. is that normal or not? any advice would help. thanks a bunch.

p.s, you look awesome. totally jealous.

Jen said...

Yep the numbness is normal. I had mine in Feb 2010 and I still have a small section in the middle that is numb. It takes a really long time but most of it will come back. I was told all of mine will eventually come back but we'll see!

And thank you! You are too kind. I don't feel like I look awesome... But we are our own worst critic. You are beautiful!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jen, I actually have a weird condition. It has nothing to do with overbite/braces, etc. but I think my jaw got severely dislocated and so my right jaw is huge and my left jaw is really small. I'm thinking about getting a jaw reduction surgery just on my right jaw...would you recommend it? How much does it hurt? How long do I have to wait until I can start eating normally and start a normal life? Thanks!

Jennifer Rowsell said...

Yep, definitely recommend it! Especially if your jaw doesn't function properly now. It really didn't hurt at all... you are well drugged in the hospital, and once the pain meds wore off I could feel it, but not in a pain sort of way. I could start eating semi-solids after a week. You put everything in a blender at first. A completely normal life? 2-3 months.