A beautician was branded ‘chinny’ for her severe underbite. Now, following years of feeling like an ‘ugly alien’, she’s smiling for the first time after gruelling jaw surgery.
Mia Duckworth battled with her jaw since a young age, forcing her to endure physical turmoil as well as emotional abuse from bullies.
After longing for surgery, the 21-year-old endured a four-hour operation to correct her underbite – in which her top and bottom jaws were both broken, realigned and secured in place with screws.
Due to the severity of her underbite, Mia’s upper and lower teeth never met, leaving her in agony as her jaw would click in and out of place. While she’d wanted surgery since she was a young girl, she had to spend nine years in braces prior to the operation.
As well as the pain, Mia was ridiculed by school bullies who’d frequently leave her in tears. But she has the last laugh: now, she’s so confident she feels like ‘a new woman’, smiling in photos for the first time in five years.
Mia, of Darwen, Lancashire, said
The surgery has changed my life in more ways that you can imagine. Before I hardly wore my hair completely off my face but now I wear it in a really tight bun and I feel so exposed but I’m so confident now in my new face that I love it. My underbite affected me a lot mentally. I felt ugly and horrible. Comparing myself to my friends it was like I was an alien.
But the first time I looked in the mirror after all the swelling from my surgery had gone down, I felt happy. I finally felt pretty. It was like I finally looked how I was supposed to look all along.
People have said it makes me look younger. I feel like a new woman, and like I can conquer anything. I feel unbelievable. I have retainers I use at night to keep my teeth the way they are but my teeth and jaw look amazing – and I can finally smile.
As well as regularly wearing her hair tied back to show off her straightened jawline, Mia now loves to flash her new smile for photos and for the first time ever, she feels ‘pretty’.
After almost a decade in braces to straighten her teeth and ensure she’d finished growing before her jaw could be realigned, Mia underwent surgery at Royal Blackburn Hospital on May 23.
Maxillofacial surgeons broke Mia’s top and bottom jawbones before removing the excess bone and then fixing her jaw in a new, straightened position with screws.
As well as the boost to Mia’s self-confidence, the surgery has relieved the regular jaw pain and headaches the underbite would cause. After the op, one of the first things Mia did was bite into an apple.
My underbite was rather large. I could fit my tongue through the gap between my lower teeth and upper teeth. It meant I struggled to eat certain foods such as apples because of my jaw position. And I was always conscious of the way I was eating in front of other people and tended to cover my mouth a lot when I ate.
The surgery has helped me massively with day-to-day life. When I could finally eat solids properly the first thing I wanted to try was biting into an apple for the first time in years. I had to teach myself how to eat again as my teeth were in a different position which was strange. Eating things that I’d normally eat didn’t feel the same but I soon got used to it.
The surgery was ultimately successful, but there’s been a few bumps on the road to recovery. After waking up from surgery, Mia was throwing up blood constantly. For the next three weeks, she was in extreme pain, with a swollen jaw and even suffering bouts of depression due to the agony.
I’d have days where I would cry for hours and say I couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t eat properly for weeks, having one liquid meal a day as I couldn’t enjoy the food. My mum blended up meals for me but it just wasn’t the same and my boyfriend brought home McDonald’s sometimes and I just cried my eyes out as I wanted to eat it so bad but couldn’t.
That was the hardest part, not being able to eat, I was so weak and lost a bit of weight. I didn’t sleep properly for weeks, and my mouth was so swollen and it felt like it had its own heartbeat it was throbbing so much during the night. The swelling lasted for around three weeks. It was horrible seeing my face so swollen. I looked like a different person.
Despite the anguish, Mia feels the surgery was completely worth it as it’s allowed her to start ‘living her life to the fullest’. Now, the makeup artist hopes her story will inspire others in a similar position.
I spent three weeks upset and crying about not being able to eat, being so down and low but I’d do it all over again. I would 100% recommend the surgery to people thinking about having it. It changes your life.
It’s three weeks of your life in pain and sore to be able to live the rest of it to the fullest and feel amazing.The weeks of recovery felt like a lifetime but now I can look back on it and it appreciate everything my surgeon did for me. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done and I’m so glad I did it.
Be prepared for a few sleepless nights, highs and lows but surround yourself with the right people to help you along the way and you’ll smash it. Once the first few weeks are over it’s only uphill from there.
If you’ve been affected by bullying, and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact Bullying UK (part of Family Lives) on 0808 800 2222. The helpline service is open 9am – 9pm, Monday to Friday and 10am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday.
After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.