Crooked Smile - Beverly Hills, CA

I had a crooked smile. Nine years ago, I had...

I had a crooked smile. Nine years ago, I had surgery that removed a tumor lodged deep inside my face. The tumor had grown out from my left salivary gland (parotid gland). From the outside, it looked like a large cyst that was pushing out of my face, just in front of my left earlobe. The ENT surgeon cut through some of my nerves to get to the tumor’s deepest end, and then reattached the severed nerves before closing the flap. Although the tumor was removed successfully, I ended up losing sensation in my lower left cheek area. The facial muscles in my left cheek were weakened, causing my left cheek muscles to droop over time. The worst part is that I lost the ability to control my facial muscles for the lower left end of my lips. As a result, I ended up with a crooked smile.

Now, you might be asking why I waited nine years to see a plastic surgeon. My answer: The ENT surgeon told me that there wasn’t any medical procedure that could restore my smile. That’s still true today. Nerve damage is irreversible. So I chose to not dwell on it, and adapted to my new reality. Or, so I thought I did. It wasn’t until I saw myself in photos from a recent shoot that I was forced to really look at myself from multiple angles. I was aghast when I saw the pictures. All of the photos captured me looking uncomfortable and feeling awkward. There wasn’t a trace of a smile in any of the photos. They revealed to me an uncomfortable truth I had buried away; I was ashamed of my smile. I was hiding the crookedness of my smile. The old photos of me as a kid show a boy that was smiling and happy. The old smile was natural, symmetric, and effortless, and it brightened up my face. The new pictures presented me pretty much as an unhappy and unapproachable person; it was very shocking to see. These new pictures forced me to wake up to the unpleasant fact that I had lost my smile. I was crushed. And I was angry, at the tumor and the surgery. From that moment, I was no longer OK with letting things stand. And I had to get it fixed. Sooner, the better.

Like most of you reading this, I did my research on the internet. I happened upon realself.com and the website’s Q&A forum which is where plastic surgeons can post responses to questions from people looking for answers to plastic surgery questions. Using the search engine, I happened upon a Q&A string on the topic of the ways to achieve a more symmetric smile. There was one response that stuck out. The one post that was the most illuminating was the one posted by Dr. Moelleken. His response got me to read his other posts on realself.com which helped me get a better sense of him. I dug deeper, and ended up looking up his medical background, publication history, experience, qualifications, and reputation. And then, I called his office to schedule a consult.

I went to see Dr. Moelleken in early February. He greeted me warmly. We shook hands, and then went straight to my issue. We discussed my crooked smile. I talked to him about my history with the tumor and the surgery. He listened to me as he studied my head, my neck, my ears, my skin, and my overall face. Then, he instructed me to make a series of faces. I believe he was studying the state of my facial muscle motor contour, and identify the weak muscles. He then explained the procedures he was recommending for me: SMAS reconstruction, facelift, scar revision (to reduce the visibility of the scar left by the tumor surgery), and laser resurfacing (I also have acne scars, enlarged pores, and pigmentation unevenness on my face). I told Dr. Moelleken, I wanted to get my smile back, and asked him if that were possible with these procedures. It was an intentional “softball” question, where I needed to see him hit it out of the ball park. That, he did. Dr. Moelleken said very matter-of-factly that the nerve damage in my face could not be reversed with plastic surgery, but with my existing motor skills, my smile can be made to look more symmetric. I also had concerns about the risk of possible bad outcomes. Understand that up until very recently before I knew anything about plastic surgery, I was struggling to come to terms with the notion of trying to fix one bad surgical outcome with yet another surgery. Also, the infamous photos of famous plastic surgery disasters were never far from my mind. So I did my homework. I did my homework on the procedures. I also did my homework on Dr. Moelleken, prior to the consultation. I alleviated these concerns by weighing their likelihood against the history, background, and reputation that Dr. Moelleken has. The consensus on Dr. Moelleken, after my homework on him, is that he’s a top-rated, skilled surgeon with deep knowledge and eyes for aesthetics and personal beauty. Regardless of that, at the consultation, I asked him about those risks anyway (yes, another “softball”). His live response was what I was hoping to hear. He acknowledged the risks. He also said very plainly that the likelihood of those concerns becoming an issue, with the procedures he was recommending, was very low.

I had my surgery in early March.

At the time of this writing, it’s been five weeks since the surgery. I didn’t experience any pain during surgery or recovery. The swelling is all but gone. The residual swelling is noticeable only to me. In time, the residuals will also fade away.

I’m now able to smile symmetrically. It’s hard to believe that up until five weeks ago, for nine years, I had a smile that I was ashamed of showing in public. The smile I have now looks natural. It’s more than I ever thought possible, given that I have permanent partial facial paralysis.

Am I happy? I’m smiling as I write this.

I hope this testimony will help those of you in a similar predicament. If you’re contemplating plastic surgery, then do your homework before you decide on anything. I speak from experience when I say, the information will empower you. It can help chip away the anxiety you might be feeling about getting plastic surgery, as I had. The information will also make you more confident with the choices you make. The more you know, the more comfortable you’ll be with your choices. A lot of the information you need to make informed decisions is available online, right here on this website, realself.com. Realself.com is a public information database containing all kinds of information on all things related to plastic surgery. It’s even got a search engine at the top of every page to make finding information very easy. So, use it. I recommend you try variations with your search words to get more hits (e.g., “crooked smile, asymmetric smile”). It’s up to you to use this resource, and get the information you need.

When choosing your plastic surgeon, I recommend you consider Dr. Moelleken. If you’ve read my testimony from the beginning, you know that I’ve done the homework on him before the initial consult. You can do the same. It’s not hard to do. Start learning about Dr. Moelleken from this very website, realself.com. For instance, check out Dr. Moelleken’s Q&A posts. When I read through his posts, I got a sense of his depth and breadth of his knowledge and experience. His Q&A posts can be accessed by clicking on the “Q&A” tab from his webpage on realself.com. His Q&A posts are incisive and illuminating; you’ll learn something, I guarantee it. Reading my testimony is not a bad start either. I read through quite a few of Dr. Moelleken’s patients’ testimonials myself, not too long ago. Personally, I found the Q&A posts a more illuminatings source of information than the testimonials. Once you’ve done the homework, go talk to Dr. Moelleken about your situation. Articulate to him what you want and the specific results you’re hoping for. Dr. Moelleken can work with you on your goals, give you his expert recommendations, and help you achieve them.

Best wishes.
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Moelleken fixed my crooked smile.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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Comments (1)

Wow, what a fabulous review! Thank you for your kind words about RealSelf. I'm so glad the site was able to help you research and find your surgeon. Nine years is too long to go without being able to express joy on your face. Very happy for you!
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