A woman bullied for looking like a ‘squirrel’ underwent surgery to reconstruct her jaw – using the stomach fat in her face.
After being plagued with health issues for much of her life, Izzy was finally diagnosed with a rare condition that causes the bones in the jaw to breakdown.
Now, after a 12 and a half hour operation, Izzy says she’s happy with how her face looks – and can’t wait to eat some treats.
Izzy, a graduate in real estate, from Los Angeles, US, said: ‘I can’t wait to have some toffee candy.’
Izzy was just when her mum, Cherise Gerrard, 60, noticed her jaw wasn’t very pronounced and looked ‘different’.
At eight-years-old the health issues started to progress, and Izzy suffered a lot of jaw and joint pain.
She went to countless orthodontists and has worn braces six times in her life. She also struggled with eating, breathing and sleeping.
Izzy said: ‘I haven’t been able to crunch or bite down with my top teeth since I was aged 10.
‘I haven’t been able to bite an apple since I was eight.
‘I struggled to crunch and chew a chocolate bar.’
Soon she was only able to eat a diet of soft foods at this point such as mash and rice.
She said: ‘I would choke on everything I would eat.’
She also faced bullying and dropped out of school aged 15.
She said: ‘I was bullied my entire life. I didn’t understand why people didn’t want to be my friend or guys wouldn’t want to date me.
‘They would compare my side profile to a squirrel and call me “no chin”.
‘My family always told me I was beautiful.’
In June 2020, a doctor finally realised Izzy had idiopathic condylar resorption (ICR) – a rare condition that causes the bones in your jaw to breakdown.
Izzy had her official diagnosis of ICR in September 2022 and was told she needed surgery to give her a custom-made jaw.
She said: ‘I was told it was bone on bone. My TMG was corroded.’
Medics said her face looked like ‘someone who had got blown up in war’ as her TMG joint – the two joints which connect your lower jaw to your skull – was ‘non-existent’.
She underwent bilateral total jaw joint replacement surgery in February 2023 – which involved cutting her jaw in four places, removing her original jaw, and replacing it with custom made prosthetics.
Izzy also had fat grafts from her stomach put into her face to cushion her new TMG joint.
After surgery Izzy was initially too terrified to look at herself in the mirror.
She said: ‘I didn’t look for five days and made my dad put sheets and towels over the mirrors in the hospital.
‘I started breaking down when I first saw myself. I thought “that wasn’t me”.
‘I also couldn’t speak at all. I was non-verbal for seven days.
‘I then started mumbling. My voice changed a lot – it’s more high-pitched.’
‘Now I’m feeling happy with how it’s starting to look. It’s life changing.’
Izzy funded the surgery through her insurance. Izzy spent five days in hospital after having an allergic reaction to her medication before she was able to head home.
She wasn’t able to speak for seven days or open her mouth very much but has been doing jaw exercise every day.
Izzy is still on a soft food diet while she recovers and will be able to start eating hard food in May.
She said: ‘I was always so jealous of people who would go to Disney and eat a caramel apple.’
Izzy says the surgery has made her realise who her true friends are.
She said: ‘A lot of guys have come in my DMs post-surgery.
‘And people now saying we should go out. But where were you before?
‘I know who my friends are.’
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