Sunday, 30 October 2011

7 months of braces...and still a long way from surgery

So, 26th October was 28 weeks (7 months) of braces. I had an appointment with my surgeon on 27th. Because I knew my appointment was going to be with my ortho and my surgeon, I thought that this might mean that things are really starting to get going with all this, and that I wouldn't be too far away from surgery. I know they told me 1 - 1 1/2 years of braces before surgery, but I've heard about so many people that are told that and get it done much earlier, so I was thinking that this appointment might've been scheduled because they were going to tell me it's not that long until surgery...but I was very wrong...

Let's start with the most important news from the appointment...I'm not gonna be having surgery for at least another 9 months!!! I was quite disappointed, but strangely not as disappointed as I would think I would be, if that makes sense. Maybe it's because deep down I'm terrified about having it done, so it still being 9 months away makes me less scared. I just don't see what else there is to do?! They said that my wonky no-bracket tooth is now ready to be brought forward. I felt like saying 'Just do it now while I'm here then!' but obviously they won't, and I've got to wait til my next appointment on 23rd November to get that done. But apart from that I don't really understand what else needs to be done. I think I'll ask my ortho next time I see her.

On a slightly more positive note, my surgeon did say that the longer you have your braces on pre-surgery, the less time you have them on post-surgery, so I suppose that's good...but he also said that I'm not even 1/3 of the way through this whole process yet :(

But anyway, I'm still glad I had the appointment. I got to ask him lots of questions. I'll summarise the things he said in bullet points:

  • He agreed he'll do my upper and lower jaws - he said they'll impact my upper jaw by about 5mm. It was quite scary cos he was showing me a model skull and showing me where/how they cut it, and showing me all the things they have to be careful of, such as cutting my septum and giving me a wonky nose! But I suppose it's good that they're aware of these things and will try to stop them happening!

  • He also said that they'll be careful not to impact my top jaw too much because it could turn my 'slender' face into a bit of a 'podgy' face :s But he did say this is probably something I wouldn't even notice, but as it's his job he would and it would bother him that he hasn't got it perfect

  • I said to him about my cant and wonky midline - he didn't seem too concerned about this and acted a bit as if I was worrying about things that aren't really a big problem, but he said it would be fixed in surgery

  • He said that he thought I was being sensible with regards to my approach towards the genioplasty by waiting until the jaw surgery is out of the way and then assessing whether I think I want the genio, but I said that at the moment I don't think I will. He agreed and said that, in a perfect world where you're trying to make the perfect face, you might want to bring the chin forward a bit, but I said I'm not aiming for perfection, I'm just aiming for my jaws in the right place

  • He said that they have a 'hierarchy of stability' for the different jaw procedures, and that the two types of surgery I'm having are pretty high up the hierarchy, and therefore very stable, and more safe and predictable than other types, so that was reassuring

  • I asked about my nose getting wider, and he basically in a polite way said that if anything the surgery will improve the appearance of my nose. He said it will make me show less nostril, and that it would get rid of my 'bobbing tip' - apparently the end of my nose moves up and down when I talk because my top lip is pulling it down because my top lip has so far to go to meet the bottom one. I never knew I had this, but getting rid of it will be a bonus I suppose!

  • He said their rate of permanent numbness at my hospital has decreased from 8% to 5%, so again that's reassuring

  • I asked how common it is that someone has to be taken back into surgery to correct something, and he said that he hasn't done that for a very long time, and that when he did it was nearer the beginning of his career - however, he did say that there are often complications with jaw surgery and 'any doctor who says they don't have any is lying'

  • After surgery you have your train-tracks (i.e. fixed braces) for around 3 - 4 months (this was less than I thought it was) and then a retainer that you wear all the time, and then just a retainer you wear at night

I think that's pretty much what he said. So it seems likely that I'll be getting my surgery next summer, around August hopefully. Also I now need to have my top wisdom teeth out, so I'm having them out on 15th December. Having these teeth out is nowhere near as bad as the bottom ones, so I'm not too worried, but I don't like the fact that it's only a local anaesthetic and I'll be awake! It's annoying because both the surgeon (who I think took the bottom wisdom teeth out) and my ortho don't know why the top ones weren't taken out when I had the bottom ones out! Never mind!

So although I'm a bit disappointed about it still being at least 9 months away, I know I shouldn't complain because I'm so lucky and so grateful to be getting this done at all. This really hit home when I saw on the Orthognathic Surgery Facebook page that it cost someone $58000 to get just their upper jaw done. I really am so lucky that the NHS are doing this for me for free, so I promise there will be no more moaning about it! I'm incredibly grateful to be having it done at all.

They said that the progress would be slowed down by any breakages and by not keeping it clean, so I was wondering whether it's worth investing in a Waterpik now? I don't really know much about them. Any advice on this would be appreciated!

I will post some 7 month photos later, although I'm sure they're not much different from the 6 month ones!


  1. Hey Sarah!
    I can relate to what you're going through-I have my surgery scheduled for 8 months from now, which will mean that I will have had my braces on for 19 months before surgery (I thought it would be a lot sooner too!). I think it takes so long because it's preferable for your roots to be straight and stable before surgery, since it's less risky in compromising the health of your teeth. My OD told me that right now he's limited by biology and how quickly my roots want to move.
    I laughed when I read about the "bobbing tip" of your nose. I have the same thing, but I never really thought of it that way. I always press my nose down when I'm talking and pout my lips because it's easier for my lips to meet that way.
    And personally, I wouldn't recommend a waterpik. I bought one and returned it right away. All of the water just ricocheted off of my teeth and sprayed everywhere, and I didn't feel like it cleaned my teeth at all. I've heard that some people like it though, so it's totally your preference.

  2. Hi Max, I just had a look at your blog and it looks like we're in a fairly similar position! You look like you have very similar jaws to me, and I was thinking the same thing about genio, I definitely don't want my chin to look too big post-surgery! Thanks for your advice about the waterpik, I've heard mixed reviews about them, some people seem to love them while others hate them!