Five years ago I was imagining in my head what it would feel like to be 5 years post op when at that time it’s very difficult to envision. It takes up to a year after having double jaw surgery for the swelling in your face to go down and you don’t see your final result until around that mark. Sure that the majority of your face has significantly decreased due to the outside swelling going down but it’s the swelling inside your face that takes the longest time, leaving your cheeks feeling puffy and tender to touch.
The surgery I had
As I had an 11mm overbite and gummy smile, the plan for my surgery was that I would have an operation called BSSO aka Bilateral sagittal split surgery and Le Fort 1. Together this is known as double jaw surgery because both jaws are having surgery on.
For my top jaw they did something on me called a LE FORT 1 osteotomy which is a horizontal incision across the maxilla jaw ( top jaw) In my case they cut quite a bit of bone out because I had a very gummy smile, they then moved my jaw up and backwards a little bit to put it into the correct place and then secured it using surgical hooks and screws.
BSSO Bilateral sagittal split osteotomy- To simplify my explanation for this is that they separated my lower jaw (mandible) from my face and then they cut the back part of my jaw in two places in a diagonal position, repositioned it and because my bottom jaw was too far back, they brought it forward to meet my upper jaw and secured it into place with hooks and screws.
Not only are they doing all of the above in surgery they are also having to make sure everything is aligned properly which is very intricate work. I remember when I woke up after coming round in ICU asking a nurse why I had a stitch put in between my eyes and she said the surgeon had to place a screw there to make sure everything was in the correct position. I have a slight scar now but nothing I am bothered about.
So you can now see why there would be a lot of internal swelling going on inside your face so my message to you is to try and be patient with your self. I still have a bit of puffiness in my cheek 5 years on which has never gone back to normal and I am convinced one of my screws is inflamed under there but it doesn’t bother me enough for me to go and get it removed.
Another area on my face that is still affected is the top right side of my lip and the top right side of my gum. I think the nerves must have been damaged during the operation which isn’t uncommon and they never went back to normal but again it’s not a big deal. Read more about my surgery day here.
I wrote a couple of posts a few years ago, just quick ones talking about my recovery but nothing in much detail so I thought I’d explain it here.
The most common question I get asked is – Does double jaw surgery hurt? My answer is No, it didn’t hurt, yes it was uncomfortable but that was only when the pain relief from the surgery started wearing off. My partner did an excellent job of making sure I was taking regular pain relief which was a combination of liquid paracetamol and dissolvable ibuprofen. It was disgusting and gagging whilst you have two broken jaws isn’t the most pleasant of experiences but I would rather not be in any pain so eventually became acceptive.
The mornings were the worst. You are advised to sleep propped up because your face is so heavy and swollen but during the night I would slip down and In the mornings I would wake up with the side of my face on the pillow and I would be laying down flat. I would have to literally lift my face up with my hands from off my pillow because of how heavy it was. You also have to then deal with a headache because your so congested from sleeping. Now you can look forward to brushing your teeth and eating a liquid breakfast.
You have now have had your operation and you are not allowed to eat solid foods for at least six weeks. Looking back I remembered dreading this part the most, I have never liked soup and was petrified of feeling extremely hungry all the time but with the help of my partner and my mum this never happened. My mum in law brought us a Ninja bullet for my impending surgery knowing that it would be extremely useful to me and it was a god send.
Between my mum and partner they got creative and I wasn’t stuck eating the same things day in day out. I remember the first meal I had blended and given to me, it honestly looked like diarrhoea and tasted so bland that I wasn’t looking forward to the next one.
My mum then came up with a genius idea of blending the foods separately and then placing them on the plate separately so the colours and textures didn’t all integrate into one big mush, and it worked! I will never forget that meal, it was sausages , carrots, mash and gravy and it tasted just as it should. I would definitely recommend you doing this if you have surgery coming up or have just had it.
When you are eating a liquid diet you have to be so careful because loosing weight is guaranteed. I was already very slim before my surgery and I think I lost about a stone plus a bit more which made me a size six. Some surgeons might tell you to put on a bit of weight before surgery depending on your BMI.
The food I ate
- Some other soft meals I ate were;
- Scrambled eggs, my mum would sometimes add spaghetti hoops because they were easy to swallow
- Macaroni and cheese, These would be the cans and it became one of my favourite foods
- Spaghetti bolognaise- My mum would buy the mini pasta shells and then blend my bolognaise
- Weetabix – Eww I can’t believe I even ate this but I came to like it at the time.
- Weetabix drinks- I loved these
- Rice pudding
- Banana and custard
- Lots of home made smoothies
- Most of my meals were blended as I have described above so I managed to eat what everyone else in my family ate.
Your hospital bag
Something else to consider is what to pack in your hospital bag, personally I think I overpacked. After double jaw surgery you usually stay in hospital one to two nights to make sure your ok to go home because of how major the operation is.
They lost my bag so everything I packed was never used anyway and my case was only found a few hours before I was allowed home. David had to bring me in clothes etc but this is what I would of found useful.
- A pregnancy v-pillow – This helped to keep me propped up and was really useful
- A Jaw bra and bags of gel – This was also useful I still use it today but for other things.
- Soft baby toothbrush- You will need this to brush your teeth as the bristles are soft, I only used it for a short time and then switched to a normal toothbrush.
- Corsodyl mouthwash – You should be given a bottle of this in hospital to take home but just in case .
- Arnica cream for the bruising – I didn’t use this in the end so can’t comment to say if it works
- Tissues- To wipe up your dribble or your bloody nose, you will need these.
- Face wipes- To freshen your face up but be gentle
- Pain relief – They will give you them whilst your in hospital but pack them just in case ( I used paracetamol with codeine.
- Straws or a big Syringe- To drink your drink
- Word search book to do whilst your waiting around for your surgery or for when you have woken up from your anaesthetic properly.
- Buttoned Pj’s – The last thing your going to want to do after surgery is try pull something over your head.
- The obvious items like your phone and charger, underwear, hairbrush etc…
If after you have read this post and have any other questions. Please feel free to leave me a comment below or email me Jo@theknighttribe.co.uk