Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ask Bella: Numbness and nerve damage

Q: During my meeting with the surgeon last week, he warned me about the small possibility of damaging the nerves. I kind of knew the risks that exist with these types of surgeries, but as I sat there listening to him, I really had this overwhelming fear that I will lose feeling on some parts of my face. So then I started really to research more about it. Given that, I wanted to ask you the following questions:
  1. Did you have huge concerns over nerve damage?

    A: I was concerned, but I did a lot of research, read people's stories on the Internet and talked to people who had the procedure done. I also looked into alternative health practices that would help with nerve repair, such as acupuncture, supplements, and homeopathic remedies. You can see my list of homeopathic/supplements that I took before and after surgery here. Also, all my posts that deal specifically with numbness can be found here.

  2. What did your surgeon tell you about the risks involved and how likely it is that something will go "wrong"?

    A: My surgeon told me that there was a risk for permanent numbness in the chin/lower lip and that risk went up with age. So, at 32 years old, I had a 32 per cent chance of having permanent numbness. However, this guy had been doing this surgery for longer than I have been alive, so I had faith in his abilities to minimize damage and risk.

  3. Did you hesitate about going through the surgery? If so, why did you decide to go ahead?

    A: No hesitation. Once I did all my research and felt comfortable with the surgery, I moved forward and never looked back. I did this surgery because I was having a lot of TMJ pain as a result of my overbite and knew that it would get worse if I didn't do something.

  4. Do you regret having gone through the surgery because of nerve issues?

    A: No regrets. And no major nerve problems because of the surgery.

  5. Has all the feeling gone back to your chin/jaw/lip areas?

    A: A year after surgery, I have almost full feeling in my lower lip and chin. It is more than 99 per cent there and improves everyday. I don't notice it unless I touch the area very, very lightly. If I use a regular touch, it feels like the rest of my face, and I can't tell the difference. The majority of the feeling in my chin/lip came back very quickly (within a month of surgery) and then slowed down, but improved on an ongoing basis. I have faith I'll have full feeling return, but even if I don't, I can live with the way it is - it's not weird at all.

  6. Would you have done something differently?

    A: I would have taken iron supplements post-surgery. It was the only thing I didn't think about doing and I became anemic as a result. Of course, this isn't the case for everyone, but it was for me. I also would not have let my orthodontist take off my braces when he did - it was too soon and gaps opened up between my teeth and I had to have the braces put back on a few months later. Otherwise, no "what ifs". I was very prepared.

  7. Knowing what you know now, will you do the surgery all over again?

    A: Absolutely. No regrets. I'm happy with the results, and I am looking forward to a pain-free life with a winning smile.

Of course, this is my situation and experience and everyone is different.

Thanks for your questions, and good luck!

*To ask Bella a question about her jaw surgery, email her at smilingbella at gmail dot com or leave a comment on this post. Go ahead: ask away!!


Grace said...

I am 3 yrs and 2 months post-operation and I still have numbness in the lower left quadrant of my lips/chin area. It's much, much better, I have gotten back alot of nerves in my teeth, but I think I've mostly adjusted to the "wooden teeth" sensation.

Don't be scared. It's all worth the loss of nerves, even though at times it can be very frustrating to not have feeling in your lips/mouth/teeth and even chin, in my case. I just started patting my chin/lips to make sure I didn't leave food there b/c I coudln't feel anything.
But 3+ yrs post-op and I don't regret the surgery. It's helped me feel so much more "normal" when I eat. Even now, I marvel at the way I can bite into a sandwich and have clean bite marks, instead of just messing up the compilation and having a mess and no food in my mouth. It feels great to be able to eat like I was once designed to before whatever screwed up the alignments happened. :)

Good luck to you, Bella, and to all your readers!

Grace said...

Oh, and about being pain-free? Sometimes it just isn't possible. I still have pain, but the functionality is sooo much better, and the pain is reduced.
I don't get as many migraines anymore.
And while I get tired when I chew too much, and need to stop eating sometimes, I can actually chew, and it's a miracle to me.



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