By Liana Jacob
MEET the British woman who endured severe bullying including boys throwing rocks at her and being called ‘bulldog’ for her underbite and has since had a double-jaw surgery that has left her turning heads.
Clinic coordinator, Rebecca Hamilton (23), from Derry, Northern Ireland, inherited ‘gapped teeth’ from her father which is when some of her baby teeth fell out and there were no adult teeth to replace them.
As well as this, she also had an underbite, also known as a class III malocclusion or prognathism, which is a condition where the lower teeth and jaw extend beyond the upper teeth.
Her appearance made her feel constantly insecure; she felt paranoid that whoever sat beside her would see her side profile and make fun of her.
Before her surgery she would struggle to eat everyday meals such as; sandwiches, burgers and pizza as she physically couldn’t bite into them. In the summer of 2016 she had her first surgery of removing her wisdom teeth as they were positioned where they had to break the jaw.
Rebecca underwent double-jaw surgery in December 2016 which was four-hours long and she remained in hospital for two days. The surgeon moved her top jaw forward by seven millimetres and her lower jaw back eight millimetres.
She is now engaged to her high school boyfriend, Stephane, who has helped her see the beauty in herself despite her tough years in high school.
“My fiancé didn’t really notice how bad my jaw was until after and it was only then that he noticed why I needed it,” Rebecca said.
“He was with me even when I had my underbite and made me feel beautiful even though I felt like I wasn’t. He was with me the whole time through the process and I will be forever grateful to him.”
She says she now feels confident in her new smile and is not afraid to talk to people and would recommend the surgery to anyone else in her situation as it has changed her life.
“It was terrible, I don’t think people understood it at all. Not only did I have the underbite I also had gapped teeth,” Rebecca said.
“I remember people throwing money at me in the school corridors and telling me to use the money to get my teeth fixed.
“I remember girls in my class would called me ‘bulldog’ and always say I have a huge head and chin. I was called ugly on daily basis.
“I remember walking home from school one day and this boy threw rocks at me and called me ‘dog’ and asked me what’s wrong with my face.
“I always brushed these comments off and it was only when I got older I realised how badly it had affected me. Bullying is such an awful thing, you’re basically pulling down others and for what cause reason?
“I constantly felt ugly. I was so paranoid if someone sat beside me that they would see my side profile and make fun of me.
“I put on a brave face, so no one would have known how this affected me. Inside I was so self-conscious.
“During school presentations or if someone spoke to me that was a close friend, my face would be bright red because I would be so embarrassed that they can see my jaw.
“In photos, my lips would look like they were stretched, and my sisters would even ask ‘why are you pulling that face, you look so stupid’ so this did not help at all.
“Before the surgery, I struggled to eat things like sandwiches, burgers, pizza because I physically couldn’t bite it.
“I would have to break the food up and eat it in pieces and people would ask me why don’t I eat it normally.
“The biggest limitation it had on me was my mental health; this is the worst part of having this problem.”
While the process of undergoing surgery was smooth with no medical complications, Rebecca, who now lives in Dublin, Ireland, says that the aftermath was painful and uncomfortable, but the results of the surgery made everything worth it in the end.
“The recovery was extremely hard. One of my best friends actually had jaw surgery and her recovery seemed so simple compared to mine,” she said.
“Waking up from surgery, I lost a lot of blood and my oxygen levels were low. I was extremely nauseous, and I struggled to breathe for the first few days as the swelling was so intense and made me feel numb.
“Your whole face is numb. This made drinking and talking so difficult. Due to lack of food, I would faint a lot during the first week.
“It was more uncomfortable than anything else; the swelling just made everything so difficult. For the first couple of weeks after surgery I just cried because I didn’t know why I did this to myself.
“The surgeon measured my face and got the exact measurements, so my bite can align. He has to get it perfect or it would be a waste of surgery.
“For me, bone had to be removed from my lower jaw, so they can make it the correct size and my top jaw was removed, moved forward and screwed into place.
“As your mouth has to be wired closed for over six weeks after surgery you need to have braces for the surgery to allow this. I had braces for four years altogether.
“This surgery is years of planning and I can’t honestly thank my orthodontist and surgeon enough because they did an amazing job.
“I have shown people my before photos and they can’t believe it was me and neither can I. The process is long and hard; your recovery will be horrible – but In the end you will thank yourself and you will never look back.
“You also have to love yourself! Never let anyone tell you how you should look and if your happy with how you are then don’t change for anyone.”
For more information visit: www.mediadrumworld.com