Never did I think I'd actually have this procedure done overseas, especially not on this particular summer trip to Taiwan, yet here I am typing my experiences from my relative's apartment in Taichung. It all started when I was randomly reading a forum on orthognathic surgery reviews and cost estimates (much like this forum here) when I found a post that recommended doing the procedure overseas since pricing in the states is quite high. They also recommended Dr. Hsieh, the orthognathic surgeon who did their surgery, who resided in Taipei, TW. Seeing how I was already in the country, I thought vising the center and finding more about it couldn't hurt. Not that I ever thought I'd actually get the procedure done, not on this 3 month trip. I mean, don't I need at least a year's worth of braces before the surgery?
Well, that's what I thought. Turns out Dr. Hsieh's center does a surgery-first approach, which means putting on the braces first but only a week prior to the surgery. Once the surgery is complete, then the rest of the wiring for the braces is installed, and then it's all up to the orthodontist to straighten the teeth into perfection. The key is for the Orthognathic Surgeon and the Orthodontist to be in constant and close communication with one another in order to understand the surgeon's procedure and how to go about finishing the straightening process. Luckily, the center has both, so they work hand in hand.
After two consultations, I was confident with the center and decided to undergo the procedure. Less than a month later, the surgery was done. I was there overnight and the nurse who accompanied me throughout the night was fantastic. She helped me with everything I needed (feeding me with a syringe of ice-cold chocolate milk, making sure I haven't fainted, icing my face, etc) and even things I didn't know I needed help with (like standing up). Overall, the surgery left me with no real pain, just a lot of mild discomfort when I woke up (due to not being able to breathe through my nose, not eating, not being able to talk), but all of this is part of the process.
The first week of recovery was the hardest. I was on pain killers and antibiotics the whole time. Swelling was at its WORST on day four. But out of all the hardships, the worst part was definitely eating... I couldn't. I was on a strict liquid diet of juices and Ensure nutritional milk. Breathing through my nose was also impossible since it was deeply congested with snot and blood. Had a pretty bad nose bleed once too. Blood in general kind of just continuously trickled down my nose throughout that week, so I had to keep a bundle of gauze taped below my nostrils to capture it. Sleeping wasn't too bad. In fact, napping came really, really easy since my body was so fatigued from the surgery and the subsequent recovery process.
After week two, I was able to eat a slightly more chunkier liquid diet (like congee), but a liquid diet nonetheless. Ensure was still an integral part of my diet to "ensure" (ha) I was getting all my nutrients for the day. Breathing through my nose was still hard, so mouth breathing was the only option left. Face was still swollen and energy levels were still low, but I could feel myself slowly regaining more and more energy day by day.
And now I just hit the week 3 mark. I just started working out again, so that's been refreshing. I still can't chew due to my teeth not clamping down correctly, but it'll correct itself overtime (or so I'm told). Until then, I'm still on a liquid diet. The blender has been a godsend. Overall, I'm pleased with how the surgery went, the doctors, the nurses, the center, and the recovery process. The only thing that worries me is that my face is still swollen even after 3 weeks. I've read that it can take up to 3 months, and I hope that's true. My biggest fear is that my cheeks will forever be this protruding and puffy.