Megan Donnelly's Experience with Double Jaw Surgery

Guest Writer: Megan Donnelly; Ireland

Interview Questions: Sarah McKinnon

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My name is Megan Donnelly; I'm 21 years old. I'm from the small village of Slane in Ireland. I've lived here all my life with my mam, dad and younger brother.

When I was 12 years old, I was told I had a severe underbite meaning I'd need Double Jaw Surgery in the future; An underbite is a dental condition by which the lower teeth extend farther than the top teeth. Aka Class III Malocclusion; it creates a 'bulldog like' appearance in the mouth and face. Double Jaw Surgery aka DJS is as it sounds. The surgery involves breaking both jaws and re-aligning them in their new positions held together with metal plates and screws. The operation gets negative views as some people see it as "only doing it for looks," but for me, it was much more than that.

I always struggled with my self-esteem; I was known to be shy. I knew I didn't look like everyone else, but I finally understood the reason why. I'd never raise my hand in class in fear of people looking at me. I was so self-conscious and didn't feel normal. When I was 14, I got my braces on to straighten my teeth, but it would be four years again. I could have the surgery as patients have to be 18. On February 9, 2018, I underwent the 4-hour double jaw surgery. The patient is put asleep. Your jaws are wired shut with elastics for 4-6 weeks for the jaws to heal. I was on a liquid food diet for about two months after that. It was the scariest experience of my life, yet the most rewarding.

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After my surgery, my family and close friends would say how well I looked. They'd always tell me I looked great or was "pretty before" the surgery. The thing was I didn't feel pretty before surgery. I'd be lying if I said social media didn't affect my decision, it did play a small part, but it was my mental health that led me to make that decision. I wasn't happy with the way I looked. I'd look in the mirror, and I felt the person looking back at me didn't reflect who I felt I was on the inside.

The most important thing I want people to know about my story is I didn't make this decision lightly. It was something I had to really consider. Would it be worth it? I was ultimately against it in the beginning. I never googled anything; I didn't look at pictures (I wouldn't recommend it, either). It was a friend of mine who helped me make my decision. She had her surgery about a year before me, and I saw her transformation and how it changed her life for the better and realized I could do it too. I really want people to know that yes, this surgery can change someone's appearance but it also gives a better quality of life, it's not just for looks.

Since my surgery, everything has changed for me. I have more confidence in myself, I'm happier, and I feel my mental health is better than ever. I enjoy going out more and being sociable. My friends and family have noticed this change in me too. I created an Instagram account sharing my story, tips, and advice in order to help other people through it. I had great support not only from my friends and family but other patients who had gone through the surgery. I wanted to give back, and by sharing my story, I hope to encourage people who do find themselves with this option not to dismiss it so quickly. Take time to consider it. It can be terrifying, but the results are phenomenal! I set up an Instagram account shortly after my surgery to document my recovery and reach out to people to share my tips & advice for preparing for surgery. I got some great feedback and even made a few friends.

Left: 14 Years Old, Pre-Surgery and Braces, Right: Post-Surgery and Braces

Left: 14 Years Old, Pre-Surgery and Braces, Right: Post-Surgery and Braces

A defining moment for me was when I had just returned to my ward right after surgery. Two nurses were hovering over me, I was groggy from the anesthetic, and I remember seeing my mam and dad for the first time, and I said to them "I did it!". At that moment, I realized I could face anything. All the little things I was scared of was nothing compared to this. I thought if I could do it, anyone can.

You can follow Megan’s Continued Journey and Story on her Instagram @jawsurgerymeg

Photography Provided by Megan Donnelly