This is a subject that pops up in my inbox time and time again. Until now, I must admit, the thought of writing a blog like this felt rather embarrassing. Family, friends and maybe my ex might read this, so I didn’t know if this was too personal of a subject.
Approaching my 30th birthday, I thought, why not, I talk to jaw patients about this all the time.
After surgery the thought of anyone coming anywhere near my head, let alone my lips, would send me into an anxious fit. Even my mum kissing my forehead scared the life out of me. I was numb from the eye socket down. I remember stroking my eyebrows as this was one of the only things I could feel. This gave me a sense of comfort and made me feel like it would be ok.
It was months before my nerves started to wake up and I am still COMPLETELY numb on both side of my bottom lip, chin and gums. People message me panicked all the time; “What if I am numb, can I kiss my boyfriend/ girlfriend?” The answer is, I can and so can you. Yes it is different because you don’t really know what your bottom lip is doing, but as long as your tongue isn’t numb and you can feel your top lip you will manage just fine.
About your lips
For your lips to move and work efficiently, a complex system of muscles and other structures is required. The lips are made up of an upper lip and a lower lip, which are connected and form the transition point between the skin on the face and the lining of the mouth.
It is the flexibility of the lips that allows for people to express different emotions. This is due to the muscular structure responsible for controlling the lips, which allows great freedom of movement and is interconnected with the rest of the muscles on the face. It is because of these lip muscles that movements like whistling and kissing are possible.
After the surgery
After the surgery your nerves and muscles will be stretched and damaged. They have suffered great trauma. They may be swollen, painful and numb. This may cause dribbling, drooping and the swelling can make your face feel hot.
Over the course of a few months, your nerves will recover or wake up. You may experience itching and shooting pains as they start to rejuvenate. It is important to note it can take up to 18 months to 2 years for your nerves to fully recover.
The nerves that are damaged, stretched, broken or dead may never recover, but the helpful part is, all those muscles connected to the lips will still work. Once the swelling has subsided and the muscles have recovered, they will serve your new face, just as well as they did before. This means that you will still be able to talk, eat and kiss without having a drooping or dribbling mouth.
How long before I can kiss my partner?
It really does depend on your recovery. I would say no sooner than 2 weeks. You need to be careful. Nothing too passionate. Your face is broken in several places, remember!
On top of the broken bones, you also have swelling and pain. You need to ask yourself, how do you feel? Are you in pain? How confident would you feel about your partner touching your face? If the answer is, no or hardly any pain, you are confident and you are a few weeks post surgery, go for it, but be careful. Even if it feels ok at the time, you may find your jaw plays up a lot after. There are a lot of muscles involved in kissing. Muscles that have gone through a lot of trauma and need to recover. I didn’t kiss my partner for 2 months after surgery. It wasn’t nice, but I couldn’t have anyone near my face. When we did kiss, it was little pecks. I had to learn how to do everything again. Talk, kiss, chew etc. It was like being a teenager again, having my first kiss. How should I move my mouth, what should I do, am I dribbling? It was pretty stressful. My boyfriend at the time was very understanding so that was nice.
Does it feel different?
Once I had recovered, my bones had healed, my nerves were mostly awake and working fine, things became a little more “normal”. My muscles still hurt and my bottom lip, chin and gums are still numb. If my partner and I had a “make out” session it would hurt quite a lot afterwards. Not so much at the time, I am sure it was something to do with the endorphins that meant I felt less pain. But afterwards, it would hurt quite a lot. We split up 10 months after my original surgery. I had gone through a lot and was still recovering. Dealing with pain, infections and learning to live with my new face and he had fallen out of love with me and just didn’t think to finish it. I was single for a long long time after that. When I got into a relationship again, almost 2 years later, it was all new again. Even now, if I haven’t kissed for a while, I need to teach myself how to do it again. What way do my muscles have to move and where is my bottom lip in relation to the other person’s? While it is not ideal, I can still do it and I am LUCKY because my nerves are completely dead. I know some people who can’t kiss their partner’s because it hurts. I am used to eating and drinking now and no one else watching would ever know my lip was numb. I am sure my kissing technique has suffered, but there are worst things in life, right?
Be kind to yourself, don’t rush yourself and do what feels comfortable. Be patient with your recovery. I really do hope you have an understanding partner who won’t pressurise you or rush you into it.
If you would like to read more about numbness, check out my blog:
Also if you get a moment – please can you take 2 seconds to vote for me in this year’s blog awards? I made a vow that since someone was kind enough to nominate me, that I will give this a good go and if nothing else I will get back to blogging again. So thank you to the person who was kind enough to nominate me.
Lots of love