Now that Arissa has talked about her experience, it is time for me to share mine as well! For those who have missed out on the previous posts, you can track our updates via this tag – we will be writing about our progress frequently, so do check back often! 🙂

Dealing with the the technicalities first, much of my pre-surgery guidelines were identical to Arissa’s – I was to fast for 8 hours prior to the surgery which was a breeze given that my operation was scheduled for 9AM. All I had to do was to be mindful not to drink any water before bed and after waking up.  I refrained from putting on any makeup and removed my nail polish the night before. Do not worry if you forget, however – the nail salon inside Banobagi can deal with that easily. With the overnight stay at the hospital in mind, I packed accordingly – I had comfortable clothing, an extra set of underwear, as well as my computer. I knew that I would be wearing the hospital gown for most of the stay, but I wanted something easy to slip into when I get discharged.

I had a final consultation with my surgeon, Dr. Oh, right before the surgery. This was particularly important because I had so many questions as a result of endlessly fretting about the procedure the night before. I conveyed to Dr. Oh my expectations, and he patiently listened to me and explained to me what he felt needed to be done. I was afraid that I would lose all definition in my cheekbones due to the zygomaplasty and I wanted a sharper, more V-shaped face with a slightly more prominent chin. Dr. Oh assured me that there is still going to be definition in my face with the added benefit of a narrower jawline, and I went out of the consultation feeling relieved that we shared similar views. My jitters were also put to rest because I had a better idea of what to expect during the surgery – rather than wondering endlessly and feeling apprehensive about what was going to be done to my face, it was oddly calming to know the exact procedures. For me, the fear of the unknown far outweighs my fear of surgery itself.

I changed into the hospital gown and my belongings were placed together in a duffle bag provided by the clinic. After waiting for a few minutes in a comfortable reception area, I was taken to the floor where the operating theatres were situated. Even though it was rather early in the morning, I remembered that the floor was bustling with activities and I was immediately whisked off into one of the rooms. Through Claire, our consultation/translator, the nurses explained that an IV was going to be inserted into my wrist and I would be instructed to breathe through a mask. The last thing I remembered was a strange, tingling sensation on my face before I fell unconscious.

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I took this picture whilst waiting in the reception. I wanted one last honest picture of myself so as to form a basis of comparison when everything has healed!

Also, it is quite funny to juxtapose it against these pictures, taken around 30 minutes after I was woken up from my six-hour long procedure.

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Much of my memories from this moment remains foggy (attributed more towards the effects of anaesthesia rather than the failures of my own memory, I’d like to think). Oddly, the only sensation that stood out to me was not pain as I had previously anticipated, but rather a deep sense of weariness. I felt like I have undergone the most strenuous journey in my life without actually being conscious during it. Coming off the anaesthesia was the most uncomfortable part in this segment of the journey –  breathing was laboured as my mouth was obstructed and my sinuses were clogged with surgical fluid, and the remnants of the anaesthetic gas burned the back of my throat. This was simultaneously accompanied by a throbbing headache that made it even harder to focus on anything. No water was allowed for the first hour which was not exactly what my parched throat wanted to hear, but at the same time I did not even think that drinking was possible. The surgical drain inserted into my cheeks blocked most of the oral cavity and I was unable to move my jaw. My tongue felt swollen and sluggish and my mouth was filled with the taste of old blood. When I felt slightly more functional, I sent the following picture to my parents:

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The drains were inserted into my lower jaw through my cheeks to drain internal bleeding, I presume. Nurses came around twice to empty the pouch during the night. I had to change the ice pack on my face every couple of hours. The process involved a slow shuffle to the refrigerator, at which point I took the opportunity to observe the other overnight patients. Many were similarly bandaged up and none of us really managed to sleep for anything longer than half an hour at a snatch. Time really crawls by under all these discomforts, but I managed to pass most of it drifting in and out of sleep and talking to my friends and family over facebook. Skyping was out of the question unfortunately since I was unable to speak at all. All communications to the staff had to be conveyed with vague noises and gestures, which is funny in retrospect but sort of a pain at that time. I thought back to my secondary school days when my class watched a film on Helen Keller – rather than empathize with the rather touching story, the lot of us budding sociopaths proceeded to mock her inability to communicate by grunting and slamming our fists down on tables for an entire week. I briefly questioned whether this is how karma comes full circle.

Anyway, the time came for us to be discharged and for the nurses to remove the drains. I did not know what I expected (and truth be told, did not even think very much about it), but I don’t think anything would have quite prepared me for this step. Let me preface this by stating that I do not think I have a low pain tolerance – I had all my wisdom teeth removed surgically simultaneously, have had 15 stitches sewn on my big toe when I nearly severed it, and degloved part of my knee amongst other injuries that were part and parcel of a very active childhood. When the nurse failed to notice that she had not removed one of the stitches cleanly and ripped the drains out (along with bits of my flesh) however, it was the first time in my adult life that I felt tears coming as a direct result of the pain. It all passed rather quickly even though the memory of this still makes me squirm slightly.

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We were sent back to our lodgings with a course of antibiotics, ice packs, antiseptic mouthwash, as well as hydrogen peroxide to clean our stitches with. Claire kindly accompanied us to collect our medication and walked us back to our rooms, where we would remain for the next few days as we slowly regained strength. On the first day, I thought my swelling couldn’t get any worse. But the swelling only ballooned more on the second and third day and my face became so comical that my pictures sent my mum into fits of laughter. I will be posting these pictures on the next post, so do check back! x

Read more about our experience here:
Part one

Part two

Part three