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This one is about: Jaw Advancement Surgery - One Person's Experience

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JAW ADVANCEMENT SURGERY: One Person's Experience

(The following was a post to Cleft-talk by Tanya Reese, 18. Tanya had the jaw advancement surgery and was explaining her experience to the list.)

JAW SURGERY: I had this done last July to move my upper jaw forward. As a result of my cleft palate, my upper jaw had never grown as it should. Anyway, basically my doctor went in through my mouth (ie, I don't have any facial scars since they did it that way) and sliced through the bone, breaking my jaw, then moved it forward and screwed it into place (internally) with titanium plates and screws. There had been a possibility that I would have had to have two-jaw surgery; if my Plastic surgeon had had to move my upper jaw too far forward, he would've compensated, instead, by moving the lower jaw back and the upper jaw forward. Fortunately, though, he only had to move the upper jaw. Everything fell into place really well. I did not have to have my teeth wired together: that is almost never used for one jaw surgery, and it is one of two options in lower/double jaw surgery (actually, I think if you're only having surgery on your lower jaw, it's more likely that your teeth will be wired together). However, I was on a totally no-chew diet for six weeks. The first two/three weeks were the hardest because I just couldn't move anything at all; it was very numb. I lost ten pounds as a result. Getting back into a regular diet six weeks later was difficult at first, because it hurt my upper jaw to bite down on anything hard. I'm still staying away from really hard stuff, too, because it causes a bothering, pressure sensation.

My face swelled up like a balloon for about three/four weeks, then went down to normal. I am now EXACTLY three months out from surgery, so what I see now when I look in the mirror is the final outcome of the surgery. I have altered sensation around my upper jaw/nose/sinus area, and that may last for up to another nine months; if it lasts beyond that, then there was some permanent nerve damage that occurred during the operation. I don't anticipate that, however. It's nothing major; it just feels funny when I run my finger down my nose/face in certain areas.

My upper lip has always been a bit too short, too, and since jaw surgery, it has been even shorter; I will be having surgery on Dec. 18 (day after finals) to lengthen my upper lip. My lips will be sewed together for 19 days, then I'll go see my plastic surgeon and we'll take care of THAT. I anticipate that I'll lose at least another five to ten pounds on that, so I have no worries about the freshman 15 (I'm not even close!)!!

If I had had to have had lower jaw surgery, the surgeon gave me two options: Of course, he would've just broken the jaw and moved it wherever, but he said that he could've A) wired my teeth together, or B) gone in on either side of the jaw, basically below your ears, and screwed it into place internally, but it would've left a little scar on either side, and there was a risk that, if they hit a nerve, you can have permanent nerve damage in your lower jaw. If I had had surgery on my lower jaw, I would've opted for B, simply because I really didn't want my teeth wired.

I think that's about it. Oh yeah. I had to donate a unit of blood for myself prior to surgery, because you lose a lot of blood. They gave it back to me in a blood transfusion that night because I had lost so much blood. I got very very very anemic -- couldn't walk up stairs hardly at all, or walk from one part of a room to another. I was on three iron a
day for a while. I think my anemia is pretty much gone now; I need to go to the student health center sometime and check that out, though, before my next surgery.

I also started in braces a year ago this month, in preparation for surgery. I'm very happy with the results, so far, and it looks like maybe in Feb. I'll get my braces off...can't wait!!!!!

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