By Nicolas Fernandes
A student who had to finish high school online due to bullies calling her a “witch” has found confidence with a jaw-breaking surgery.
Lauren Whitt, 20, of Evergreen, Colorado, USA, has received double jaw surgery to repair a deformity that caused her to have an enlarged chin in addition to making it difficult for her to eat, breath and speak.
An orthodontist advised she have surgery at the age of 12, to fix the class three underbite and undeveloped jaw, after delaying the treatment her ailments worsened within three-years.
The bullying over her appearance intensified, as both male and female classmates would repeated call her ‘witch’ and ‘ugly’.
After transferring to another school where the teasing didn’t get any better, she decided to complete her last two years of high school online.
She went under the knife four months ago, with surgeons breaking both jaws and then putting them back together with 36 screws and bone grafted from her chin.
In addition to reducing the size of the structure, Lauren will be able to eat and breathe properly once she has recovered – she’s already noticed her lisp fully disappear.
Lauren, a criminal justice student, said: “I could not live life like that any longer. It was making me miserable.
“I waited until I was an adult to get the surgery because I did not want to go through something so painful as a kid.
“I hadn’t been able to bite into anything properly since I was a kid. I felt constant pain in my jaw every single day.
“I had a lot of trouble breathing and it kept getting worse. It got to the point that I couldn’t breathe without my mouth being open.
“My speech therapist told me that my lisp could not be fixed through speech therapy. I noticed shortly after the surgery that it was gone.
“I was brutally bullied for years because of the way I looked, so this is a major confidence booster.”
Before undergoing the procedure, Lauren had to wear Invisalign for nine months so that her teeth would straighten.
With her jaw deformities, the clear braces actually caused more pain and suffering for her.
She said: “Preparing for it was one of the most difficult parts.
“The Invisalign caused even more pain and made it nearly impossible for me to chew. I lost eight pounds and before the surgery, and I was already thin.”
Due to the severity of her deformities, a surgeon spent nine hours on the procedure, which usually takes about four hours.
Lauren said: “My surgeon told me that my underbite was the most severe he had ever seen.
“He said that this was one of the most complicated surgeries of his career.”
Because of complications from the surgery, Lauren’s recovery was even more difficult than the average patient.
After the bone grafting failed and caused an infection, she had to have that part of the surgery redone.
Another part of the bone grafting then cracked, which led to her having a third operation.
Her most recent complication involved a tooth that died as a result of a malfunction in the nerves. Lauren had to have her gums cut so that the tooth could be fixed from the inside.
She said: “I had a pretty rough recovery. I woke up swollen and miserable.”
“Because of my complications, my recovery has been ten times worse than it should have.”
After having to stay on a liquid diet for six weeks, Lauren has slowly started to introduce solid foods to her diet again.
The liquid diet caused her to drop to 113 pounds (8 stone), 22 pounds (one stone eight pounds) less than her healthy weight.
Lauren now cuts her favorite foods up into small pieces, including pizza and hamburgers and is hoping that she will soon have the ability to bring them completely back into her diet.
She said: “It’s going to be pretty cool when I’m finally able to eat a burger again without cutting it up.”
Although she refers to the procedure as the most awful experience she’s endured and she is still recovering four months later, she thinks that everyone with an underbite should consider it.
Lauren said: “It’s been my most awful and most rewarding experience so far.
“Anyone considering this surgery should do it because it can change your life.”
Lauren will be posting recovery updates and offering advice on her YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaLaQyR34a0HNJRqryjMtWA.