Before and After Photos

  • Pain: 0/10
  • Inconvenience: 0/10

It's been a while since I've taken a mugshot!

Have you ever bitten clear through a sandwich? How about a piece of pizza? What about a hot dog? Let me tell you something: It is absolutely incredible! The mere fact that I no longer have to tear through my food like some rabid beast makes this entire ordeal well worth the time, money and discomfort. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I never knew how simple chewing was until now. It almost makes me speechless. I understand that this sounds ridiculous to those of you who were blessed with a working set of teeth, but I’d like you to know that you’re lucky. Very lucky.

As promised, I’ve returned with my before and after photos. While the change may not appear to be that great, it has made a huge difference in my life.

Before surgery (Feb. 9, 2010) – Notice the underbite (and the awkward smile).

After surgery (June 22, 2010) – Four items to note: a confident smile, the appliance in the roof of my mouth, the open bite on the lefthand side of my mouth and my off center goatee.

I had another appointment with my surgeon since we last crossed paths and he left me with the following statements:

  • Feeling should hopefully commence its long journey home to my bottom lip over the next 3-6 months.
  • The feeling I’m left with after 18 months is what I’ll live with for the rest of my life.
  • I can choose to correct my open bite enough by wearing elastics until early next year, or I can opt for another surgery to bring my molars together.

I’ve eaten everything from pasta to cereal to salad to steak. In fact, the only item I’m still unable to chew at this point is a peanut (or any kind of nut, for that matter). They’re a little too solid just yet. Despite my open bite, I’ve been chewing on both sides of my mouth, but eating something like a steak becomes quite an exhausting activity. It doesn’t keep me from eating steak every single weekend though. I’m also able to chew gum again, which I’m grateful for, considering its my one and only addiction in this world.

I even got to experience chattering teeth again on one of our cold mornings! That, however, felt less than amazing.

I know my bone is completely healed because I’ve already taken several falls landing directly on my face and had no problems at all. On a seemingly unrelated note, never let the handlebars of your bike hit a tree while riding, because that very bike will launch off the trail. And then, whether you like it or not, you’ll get to experience all the excitement of doing a flip. I’m not saying that happened to me but, well, that definitely happened to me.

The Fortress of Ensure collapsed on July 12th when I attempted to add another can to its spire. About 15 people came from every corner of the office when they heard the crash. I recycled every last piece of rubble, donating over $6 of free cans to the company. The offending building block was a can of Sun Tropics Mango juice. I imagine people will one day share tales of The Great Collapse with their grandchildren, but they’ll be referring to the Fortress of Ensure instead of the Mayan civilization.

My one last piece of advice to anyone who has recently taken part in this party we like to call jaw surgery is this: Above all else, give your body time to recover. Eventually, you’ll stop chewing on your own cheeks and lips. You’ll naturally adjust to your new mouth and you’ll be very grateful for the ability to chew properly. It took me almost a full month before I could eat a meal without accidentally eating part of my own face.

I’ll likely make one more post in approximately six months detailing the final outcome of this little adventure. Until next time!

52 Comments on “Before and After Photos”

  1. sandy July 23, 2010 at 10:20 am #

    Graham, thank you for keeping us updated. You look amazing! I’m so happy to see you doing so well. I am 7 weeks out of surgery and still have swelling that doesn’t seem to be getting any better. My ortho couldn’t even get to my back teeth to put the wire through, as they were engulfed in the swelling. I was hoping you could tell me when you felt like the majority of your swelling had dissipated and if you have any tips for getting the swelling to continue going down. I believe you were around the 3 month mark, right? Were you still really swollen at almost 2 months out? I periodically use heat and ibuprofen in an attempt to get it down. Also, I can’t open more than a two fingers width. Any tips to get that opening wider? Thank you in advance. -Sandy

  2. christel July 23, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    it’s so off-center!!! and ur opening line makes me want a hotdog *shakes fist*

  3. Will - Venice, CA July 23, 2010 at 11:10 am #

    Nice Graham… I feel inspired to do a companion blog, but this time I’ll call it: http://www.singlejawsurgery.com haha… I’m 4 weeks out before my surgery… looking forward to that date and getting this started. Thanks for the update and before/after photos. So nice to see you can eat properly… All the best, Will

  4. Graham July 23, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

    Sandy, most of my swelling was gone after 2 and a half months. The fact that you’re still extremely swollen at 7 weeks is interesting though. As long as you’re not in crazy pain (ie. an infection), I think you’ll be okay.

    To reduce swelling, I just applied heat every single night. I literally fell asleep with a heatpak on my face for the entire first 3 months.

    As far as opening your mouth wider, I didn’t do anything special. My muscles just naturally began to stretch again from talking and yawning.

    Are you eating solid food yet?

  5. Graham July 23, 2010 at 2:32 pm #

    Haha, it looks funny, eh Christel? I swear it grew in the middle but was all brushed to one side in those photos or something!

  6. Graham July 23, 2010 at 2:33 pm #

    Will, this blog was great entertainment for the first few weeks, but it was tough to keep updating once I was able to get outside and live life again.

    But if you end up documenting your recovery, I’ll by all means follow along. =)

  7. sandy July 23, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    Hi again Graham, I’m more swollen on one side of my face than the other and have been since surgery and everything seems to have improved until now when it all seems to be at a stand still. The very back inside of my mouth is still REALLY swollen. What kind of heat pack were you using?
    I am eating solid food, thank Heaven! I still avoid a lot of food because my teeth are still numb and many things feel like they’re putting too much pressure on the bones. I’m nervous about my mouth opening because my surgeon said after two months it gets harder to regain your original opening. I tried eating a tater-tot yesterday and had to maneuver the tot into my mouth because I couldn’t open wide enough to throw it in.

  8. Graham July 23, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    Hehe, I remember all the crazy times I had trying to get food into my mouth at first.

    I was also swollen more on 1 side of my face than the other. It’s not a big deal.

    I just used a normal heatpak that you microwave. I don’t think the type matters as long as it gets warm. I found the heat also helped me fall asleep.

    The beauty of it all is that you can’t really wreck anything unless you get hit in the face or bite something really hard. Opening your mouth and stretching it may hurt, but it’s not actually damaging.

    I’d ask your surgeon, just to be safe (re: the swelling). I called my surgeon a few times with questions just so I knew what was going on was normal.

  9. sandy July 23, 2010 at 4:03 pm #

    Well, thanks and hopefully in about a months time, I will be feeling as good as you do. Can’t wait for the swelling to be gone so I can see my long awaited jaw line. I’ve never had one before.

  10. nycgirl-maya July 23, 2010 at 4:55 pm #

    hey graham, wow,you look amazing! after looking at your before pictures i jus realized my underbite is really severe, i pray i get the same results. i love your smile in the mugshot
    its good to know you have just surpassed a major surgery and now all thats left is braces off. By the way did they tell you when they might take your braces off?

  11. Graham July 23, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    Yep, braces should be off early next year. Most people only need them for a few months after surgery, but I (apparently) needed them for a full year.

  12. Nuno July 29, 2010 at 2:02 am #

    Hi Graham! You look awesome and healthy! This gives me hope! By the way tomorrow is my 10th adjustment of braces. I can hardly wait for surgery to overcome! I have a question to you: How long were you off work after surgery?
    Keep smiling!

  13. Graham July 29, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    Hey Nuno, I was off work for 2 weeks following surgery. I’m a programmer, so I was able to keep quiet for a few weeks after that.

    If you have to speak a lot in your line of work, I’d probably take a month off.

  14. Alyssa July 31, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    I just have to say, this site is officially a lifesaver! I got jaw surgery (similar to yours) last Tuesday and found this yesterday. I am still numb and swollen as anything but I don’t feel as alone now!!! I like to read for the next day to see what to kind of “expect”… and the end results on Day 90 give me hope! And I felt weird making a list of food to eat when I recover… but I see you beat me to the punch, haha. Oh and it’s unfortunate you had to use the syringe… my doctor just told me to get a cup and go for it.

  15. Graham August 2, 2010 at 2:01 am #

    Hi Alyssa,

    I’m pretty jealous that you were able to start out with a cup. I had no hope of that for the first 2 weeks!

    Having a list of food to eat when I was all healed up just seemed like the right thing to do. =)

  16. lihi August 2, 2010 at 7:15 am #

    hi graham! thank you soooo much for this blog! it has been so halpfull. Im going for double jaw surgery tomorow morning and Im so stressrd and scard I cant even explain how much. I know its all for the best and that the result is worth it. its jest that my bodey is so stressed I cant calm down. your expirience has been very inspiring. if you have any edvices for me Ill be happy to hear =)
    thanks. and buy the way you look grate after!! =)
    lihi.

  17. Graham August 2, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    Hi Lihi, my only advice is to stay calm and don’t worry about anything for the first 2 weeks, because they’ll definitely be the toughest.

    Just think about 3 months down the road when you’ll be back to normal!

  18. Vicky August 30, 2010 at 10:24 pm #

    Hey,
    Pleasantly surprised to see an update!! You look great, congratulations on getting through this tough process, it’s very well-deserved. Have you ever tried getting a count of how many people have thanked you for starting this blog? I bet there are a tooooonnnnn.

    I’m getting double jaw surgery the day after tomorrow and I figured I would let you know that I started a blog too, since your blog was what motivated me to do the same! http://jawsomejournal.wordpress.com/

    Thanks again for being such a great resource!!

  19. Graham September 1, 2010 at 2:12 am #

    Hi Vicky!

    “Jawsome.” I like it!

    I wish you all the best in this bumpy adventure you’re soon to embark on! Remember to get out in the fresh air. =)

  20. Vicky September 6, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

    My 5th day post-op is ending! Now that I can finally compare experiences with you, I’ve been wondering… WHYYY you look so nice and normal even at the peak of your swelling! You were so fortunate!

    Random question: I find it REALLY hard to get that space between my upper teeth and the splint cleaned out. Food sneaks through the cracks and settles inside the splint. Did you have any effective way of dealing with that? I’m so paranoid about cavities and infections

  21. Graham September 6, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

    Vicky,

    I had no clever way of cleaning that area out. I just dealt with the bad breath and annoyance of having food stuck in there until the splint came out.

    As long as you’re rinsing a few times per day with water and your medicated mouth rinse, you shouldn’t have to worry about cavities or infections.

    You’re going to love brushing once your splint is out!

  22. Keith September 14, 2010 at 8:10 am #

    Hey Graham,

    I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time and effort to write all this down. I just got my surgery date to correct my underbite, open bite and crossbite. Reading about your experiences may not have made the adventure seem anymore enjoyable, but I at least know what to expect heading in. The important thing I think is that it puts a real perspective on things. 90 days. That’s it.

    So I guess I’m wrong…it really did help.

    You have my thanks.

  23. Graham September 14, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    Keith,

    You’re right–90 days is really not all that long. It’s almost been 6 months for me. Time flies!

    Glad you found this useful.

    Cheers!

  24. Misty September 16, 2010 at 10:28 am #

    I am scheduled to have surgery on October 26th. It’s starting to sink in a bit so I’m freaking out a little reading these accounts :) Yours is very funny and informative, though, and I am very reassured that you consider it worth it. It would be so nice to be able to breathe through my nose!

    Question: during the two weeks post-op were you able to do any serious reading? I’m wondering if I should just stock up on fiction books or if I can make an attempt to read more educational books. Or is it really mostly just watching TV and not thinking at all?

    Thanks a bunch!

  25. Graham September 16, 2010 at 11:11 am #

    Hey Misty!

    You’ll be pretty exhausted during the first few weeks of your recovery. Intense reading, or anything that requires a lot of thought, will probably be difficult to do for extended periods of time.

    I had the same good intentions as you, but I ended up just watching a lot of television and sleeping quite often.

    Maybe your drive is stronger than mine though!

  26. Mai November 20, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    hey graham:
    you look great, i was looking at the before and after, is it me or did your eyes get bigger? O.O

    also, was it worth it? the whole surgery, the after math the whole shebang?

  27. Graham November 21, 2010 at 2:36 am #

    Hey Mai,

    I’m pretty I’m just squinting less in the second set of photos, haha.

    I definitely think the surgery was worthwhile. I’d do it all over again if I had to.

  28. Cat December 5, 2010 at 8:40 pm #

    Graham,

    I really enjoyed reading this, I am getting double jaw surgery on Tuesday, I was really nervous and scared. However, after reading your postings I feel much better about it. What you said about being able to bite through a sandwich and actually being able to chew sounds amazing. So I just wanted to thank you for giving me hope that this surgery is all worth it. Good luck with everything, I wish you the best.

  29. Graham December 5, 2010 at 10:59 pm #

    Hey Cat, hopefully you get through this with your head held high. Just remember not to expect anything amazing until a few months have gone by. It’s really a short period in the long run though!

  30. Susan March 5, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    Hi Graham!

    I’m scheduled to have what sounds to be the same surgery this June. It seems my jaw sticks out much further than yours did, but I’m hoping that won’t make the surgery any worse. In fact, I’ll only be seven days away from being sixteen, so maybe I can bounce back ever faster than you did!

    Anyway, I’m really just glad to hear that chewing gets easier after surgery. It wasn’t until I read your blog that I realized over people didn’t have the same problems I do. No wonder people look at me funny when I’m trying to eat things like sandwiches and pizza! I find those to be the vey hardest of things to eat. Also glad to hear that I’m not the only one dealing with mouth breathing, spitting, and an ever open mouth.

    Lastly, I’m already on the verge of being underweight, (5’8, 115 lbs)

  31. Susan March 5, 2011 at 12:24 am #

    So I was wondering how you bulked up before your surgery.

  32. Graham March 5, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Hi Susan! Jaw surgery at 16–you lucky lady!

    I put weight on before surgery by, quite simply, eating. The best way to gain weight is to work out properly and eat as much as you can. That being said, don’t eat junk food, fast food, sugar-ridden treats or anything like that. Eat properly.

    The only way I can put weight on is to eat 4-5 meals per day. If I eat the regular 3 meals, my metabolism takes care of it.

    I would encourage you to not worry about putting weight on before surgery because you’re just going to lose it in the first few days post-op anyway. If you go into surgery at your regular weight, you’ll probably lose 10-15 lbs. If you gain 10 lbs prior to surgery, you’ll just lose 20-25 lbs immediately after. It really makes no difference. :-)

  33. Susan March 5, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    Thank you! I feel a little better already knowing that I shouldn’t worry about my weight too much!

  34. Isabella July 26, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    Graham, Thank you for sharing your journey, your openess and generosity is deeply appreciated. Could you tell me how old you were when you had the surgery? How disruptive was it to your daily life.

  35. Graham July 26, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    Hi Isabella,

    I was 24 years old when I had the surgery (just last year). I had to spend 2 weeks away from work and I was fairly lacking in energy for about 2 months.

    One should plan to lay low for approximately 2 months. =)

    Hope this helps!

  36. katie slater November 18, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

    i just went throw the whole double jaw surgery with a splint and its not fun. thanks good to read im not the only one that had to go through this. its not fun and wouldnt wish this one anyone. i cant eat anything that is not 90% liquid. i have learned to drink out of a cup again so everything i eat doesnt have to come from my syringe anymore. cant wait to stop drooling guess that happens week 6 if not more. here we come week 3. hope all is good for you now

  37. Graham November 18, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    Good evening, Katie! That’s great to hear that you’re back to drinking out of a cup like a real human being! =)

    Enjoy those first few bites once you’re back on solid foods again.

  38. Jacky January 3, 2012 at 5:59 am #

    Hi Graham,
    I recently just went under two corrective jaw surgeries for my underbite as well. The first time (12/14/11) they decided not to wire me shut because they didn’t think it was necessary at the time. My recovery was quite speedy, I took myself off pain killers after a few days. A week later, it turned out that my swelling had gotten so out of control, it popped the screws on my left side out. I had to get scheduled for another surgery asap. So on 12/29/11 I got my second jaw surgery and they decided to wire me shut for around 6 weeks.

    I’m starting school in a week, and I’m having so much more difficulty with the recovery the second time around. I expected it to be an easier recovery than the first one, but it’s ten times more difficult. The muscle spasms are KILLING me! I didn’t even know these were a possibility during the post op recovery.. I’ve tried icing them, which works for a while.. until it’s time to go to sleep. The muscle spasms are getting worse day by day. I don’t know how to cope with it. I can’t even sleep because they’re just driving me crazy. It doesn’t even seem like the pain medication (hydrocodone) works for the muscle spasms. What did you do to make the best out of the situation? And are there any complications I should know about that my doctor didn’t notify me with?

  39. Graham January 3, 2012 at 11:53 pm #

    Hi Jacky!

    Going back to school next week is going to be difficult, but you might be able to pull through. You probably won’t be able to speak very well, but you’re not supposed to talk in class anyway, right?

    As for the spasms, those will go away with time. You should give them about a month to run their course and move on to bigger and better things.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know of any amazing remedies for them. My only advice is to use heat packs on your face at night and look forward to life a month down the road.

    Good luck, my friend!

  40. Heather Stout October 23, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    I had double jaw surgery on July 25th, 2012. I have been following your blog even before I had my surgery. It has helped alot and I just wanted to say thanks. Today is 90 days since my surgery. It has been tough at times, but like you said it was all worth it and I would recommend it to anyone. Also did your jaws still make noises or cracked at 90 days? Sometimes when I open my mouth or chew I hear a noise or cracking sound. Do you think that’s normal?

  41. Graham October 26, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    I’m glad you found the blog useful, Heather! My jaw made a clicking noise whenever I opened my mouth wide (when yawning or laughing) for the first 2–3 months, but the sound went away after that. I would give it another month before you worry. =)

  42. JANET June 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    Graham,
    as stated on another comment section, i’m the 51 yrs old trying to decide whether to have the surgery…leaning towards…YES!! you’re before and after photos seem slight…though, noticable. you’re so precious (and made me giggle out loud) about your off center goatee! hilarious. i’ll be getting back to you as time goes on. i’m still not in braces yet (it’ll be a 2nd go round for me) and i’m hoping to have surgery in Jan. 2014?! keeping checking back.

  43. Jesse October 13, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    Hey Graham

    At the 6 week mark. Been getting constant loud ringing/sharp pains in my ears. Mostly in the right one. I’m assuming it’s the feeling in my nerves coming back. Any suggestions other than toughing it out, Ibuprofen and Paracetamol, Exercise which is what I am currently doing. I realise it will get better but I have University exams starting this week and finding it hard to concentrate on my study. Heard that Magnesium is good for relaxing muscles. Would that help?

    Very informative blog by the way
    Thanks

  44. Graham October 15, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    Jesse, I didn’t actually experience any ear pain, so I’m not sure what to do about that. You’re right in that it’s likely a combination of nerves reawakening and muscles regaining their movement. Have you tried sleeping with a heat pack on your face to relax the muscles and nerves throughout the night?

  45. Sarah November 6, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    I just discovered this website today and all I could do was laugh reading the first paragraph of this entry, because it is the same frustration I have been dealing with for YEARS and it is what eventually convinced me to finally go and get my consultation to begin this journey.

    I had braces years ago, when I was in my teens. Had them for five years. Got them off my Junior year of highschool. I started off with an underbite, and while my teeth looked great when they first took my braces off, my bite opened up, and continued to open, until I literally only touched in the very back on either side, and had nearly a half inch gap between my top and bottom teeth in the front. Chewing was impossible. I have hated eating in public because it’s such a chore. Like you, I had to tear, and sometimes that didn’t even work–I would have to shove food in back and use my molars and tongue to chew. I also realized that my facial expressions did not translate well, because of the fact that my teeth did not meet like they’re supposed to. It even screwed up my original major in college (music ed major with my primary instrument being trumpet–I didn’t realize until a couple years after changing majors that my jaw issues were probably the reason I couldn’t make any headway with it).

    So I’ve had braces again for about 6 months now (nearly 10 years from the day I got them off), and have had my wisdom teeth pulled. That alone has closed the gap to about half of what it was, and has helped immensely with the jaw pain that was becoming a part of every day life for me. My surgery is probably going to be scheduled mid June of 2014. Reading this definitely gives me hope that this will fix the things I’ve hated about my teeth for good. It’s just really nice to know that I’m not alone, and what to really expect in the post op process. Thank you so much for making this blog.

  46. Graham November 7, 2013 at 7:41 am #

    Sarah, I’ve never encountered anyone whose jaw issues inhibited their musical talent, but that does make sense. It’s quite unreal how many areas of our lives can be affected by something like this, isn’t it?

    Thanks for sharing your story and good luck next summer!

  47. Christy November 7, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    Thank you so much for your blog! I am 3 weeks out of double jaw surgery! I have found your site so reassuring to just know I am having all the “normal” thins going on! I have done really good since my surgery but have started having spasms petty bad since my last rubber band check!! Did you find the spasms were worse after new bands?? Also, about when did they stop??

  48. Sarah November 7, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    Yeah, unfortunately with trumpet it sits on your front teeth, and with only three valves you do a lot of work with air flow to control which note and octave you’re actually playing at. I reached my peak with trumpet just as my braces were removed/the following weeks, but senior year I started to struggle with it, and then continued to struggle in college. I also noticed my first year of college that I was clenching my teeth in back when I was trying to play high notes–something I had never done before, and I didn’t realize until much later that I was trying to narrow that passageway just as I had before my bite opened up, but I could no longer physically do it due to my open bite.

    Unreal, indeed! I just wish I had figured it all out sooner so I could’ve spared myself from that feeling of failure. I’ve been playing clarinet for six months now, and it’s been so much easier/refreshing to be succeeding at an instrument again.

    Thanks!

  49. Graham November 8, 2013 at 8:42 am #

    Christy, spasms got worse for me after I started wearing rubber bands as well. This is simply a product of the newfound pressure being exerted on your jaw. Spasms usually last for about 6 weeks, so you’re at least halfway through them. Exciting, right? (Hopefully!)

  50. Christy November 8, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    Thank you for commenting! Also, did you stay really stay really stiff in your cheeks for a long time! I have a hard time talking due to numbness & just tightness! Did you force yourself to talk & move your mouth more??

  51. Graham November 9, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Christy, forcing yourself to talk is something of a give-and-take situation. Talking each day will aid in the breakup of scar tissue, but it will also leave you more swollen. I tended to minimize my speaking until I noticed my swelling subsiding.

  52. Samantha July 25, 2014 at 5:14 am #

    My overbite is worst I’m quite surprised. Mine is so horrible they said I was the worst case they ever saw and that Louisiana state university and charity want to do my double jaw surgery. Btw I know how it feels when I eat a sandwich I could only eat the bread my teeth missed the meat and cheese it’s so embarrassing. My fiancé thinks its funny also he thinks it’s funny I talk funny because of my big gap. After the jaw surgery I think imma be a little more happier people say I’m just being overly sensitive but unless people have a bad overbite and need double jaw surgery they don’t understand how rude they are. But today I’m gonna plan a day for the surgery with the surgeon and his team the results should be worth it after all the pain and I heard you cough up blood. Which makes me scared but gotta do it for myself. I’m scared imma look ugly after ._. Sigh


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Note from Graham — After 4+ years of responding to each and every comment, question, and experience shared in this community, I must humbly step down from this task due to other life commitments. I've provided answers to the most common questions here (last updated July 20, 2014). Please continue sharing your stories in these comments for the benefit of future patients, and thank you so much for joining me on this journey. Cheers!

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