Did anyone else have a crooked smile after mouth surgery?

SusanUES Member Posts: 125

I had very noticable damage after my partial glossectomy...my smile was very crooked.  Half of my upper lip (the tumor side) was significantly higher than the other half. It was really hard to apply lipstick. From what I learned through Googling, apparently the lingual nerve can sustain serious damage during surgery.  When I asked my surgeon how long it would take to heal, I got his usual dismissive "I don't see any problem."  It took almost a full year for my upper lip to be level again and not look like a demented clown smile.  Did this happen to anyone else here?


  • CivilMatt
    CivilMatt Member Posts: 4,698 Member
    little crooked


    I have enlarged your picture 1000 times and you look very symmetrical and that’s not just the lipstick talking.  Dr. Google is very knowledgeable and has an up or down opinion depending how hard you look.

    My tongue is different, it doesn’t always feel comfortable in my mouth, but what am I going to do about it?  My facial impressions make me try to appear normal, but I just know I look like something is wrong.

    It is my neck which is the big giveaway to my story.  I use to guess peoples age based on their necks and now by my same formula I look 5 or 6 maybe 7 years older.

    Keep smiling,


  • SusanUES
    SusanUES Member Posts: 125
    edited June 2016 #3
    Me in HD???

    Matt, one of the opera stars at the Met said "The first time I saw myself in HD I wanted to kill myself." The idea of being enlarged 1000 times conjures up the same, LOL! Oh yeah, the neck...I have lovely accordion pleating bisected by the dissection scar. Eh, who cares...we are beyond being judged or needing approval at this stage. Thanks for the reinforcement!

  • LiseA
    LiseA Member Posts: 266
    edited June 2016 #4
    My smile is lops on lower

    My smile is lops on lower left of mouth. Surgeon said should be back to normal in a year. Have no idea if radiation is going to make it worse. 

  • SusanUES
    SusanUES Member Posts: 125
    Lisa's Lower Lops...I love that!

    Great expression, love it!  No radiation will not make it worse or impact it...the lingual damage is the result of the surgery. Yup, a year sounds about right so get your Revlon ready.

  • phrannie51
    phrannie51 Member Posts: 4,716
    One side of my

    lower lip is higher....there is no way in hell I can lower it...it's not numb, but the nerve that used to lower it when I smile got cut.  So crooked smiles seem to be part of the HNC scene.  Hubby said it was cute (I'm still getting used to it)....I just got the neck dissection last November.


  • Star57
    Star57 Member Posts: 10
    What language is this

    Anyone had a tongue glossectomy (less than half) that left you with a big speech imparement and how do you deal with everyday talking...eating...etc. It has been 5 weeks since my surgery and I don't believe it will ever be any better than what it is now.

  • stevenpepe
    stevenpepe Member Posts: 234
    My left lower lip was a bit

    My left lower lip was a bit paralyzed. If I tried to do a full tooth smile, it would not open and lower like it should. Surgery was April 1st and it has improved to almost normal function.

  • stevenpepe
    stevenpepe Member Posts: 234
    Star57 said:

    What language is this

    Anyone had a tongue glossectomy (less than half) that left you with a big speech imparement and how do you deal with everyday talking...eating...etc. It has been 5 weeks since my surgery and I don't believe it will ever be any better than what it is now.

    You are very early out of

    You are very early out of surgery. Are you having additional treatments? I just completed 33 radiation treatments, so any improvements I had are gone now. The damage to your mouth will complicate speech further, but is usually temporary until you heal. That's what I'm counting on.

  • SusanUES
    SusanUES Member Posts: 125
    Phrannie, I love your husband...

    "Turtle Eyes" and complimenting your lop smile...he's a sweetie and funny!

    Star, this is a long, very slow process...things will improve in time, promise.


  • LiseA
    LiseA Member Posts: 266
    That should be lopsided,

    That should be lopsided, hahaha

  • SylMarie
    SylMarie Member Posts: 91 Member
    My upper lip, left side is numb and higher up

    I can't feel my upper lip, left side and when I am not smiling, the right side of my mouth is much lower than my left. There are dissolvable stitches under my top lip, left side and middle, so that may be why that side looks so much higher. I am 4 weeks and 2 days post-surgery. My speech sounds strange because I have to wear an obturator. It's weird to look in the mirror and not look entirely like yourself, or sound like yourself. Crossing my fingers that time will improve things!

  • jackflash22
    jackflash22 Member Posts: 524 Member
    Crooked lip

    it happened to me, my mouth is quite deformed. I can only half smile which looks more like a grimace and my front teeth look like they protrude. I'm self conscious  of  it but can live with it now after two years. My friends and family say they don't notice it any more. I don't look in the mirror more than I have to. My right shoulder also was damaged, it's noticeabley lower and protrudes more than the left and I can't raise it. it seems I got all the side affects of surgery and radiation including my throat closure. My quality of life is ok though, I stopped dwelling on how I used to look and now...I'm alive. I have a good life.

  • slk2015
    slk2015 Member Posts: 54
    Partial glossectomy and speech

    I had two partial glossectomies in March 2015.  My speech was fairly good thereafter, understandable anyway.  However, my teeth deteriorated and in October 2015 I had the top teeth pulled, then got dentures Feb 2016 and bottom teeth pulled last month.  Everytime, my speech deteriorated, slowly recovered and then crashed again.  Now, toothless most of the time (upper dentures are pretty much cosmetic without bottom teeth), I find people have trouble understanding my speech.  I should have bottom dentures by next month.  At that point, I will begin to work on the speech.  

    My cancer oncologist has asked repeatedly if I wanted speech therapy, but it seemed useless for now.  It takes time to readjust to the smaller tongue (I'm missing about a quarter) and to form words properly.  That varies from person to person.  Sometimes one just has to wait and see how things work out even if people do look at one oddly and ask you to repeat yourself.  The phone is my worst problem right now---I seem to have to repeat myself or slow down my speech often.  If remains a problem, speech therapy might help.

  • janich
    janich Member Posts: 12
    crooked smile

    After having maxillectomy on upper right side of mouth, 5 teeth removed, wearing an obturator due to hole in hard palate since 2014 (squamous cell cancer, NED 2015) I have a crooked smile. Also had chemo and radiation. I asked about reconstructive surgery but learned it's not worth it due to tethering and radiation damage on right side of my mouth. It would cause more pain and problems with eating, which I don't need, plus it doesn't look all that bad and I can live with it. At least I can smile, now that I have the teeth on the obturator, and I can eat soft things.

    Like others have said, I'm grateful to be alive, and looks don't matter that much any more. Also, I have a supportive husband who thinks my crooked smile is cute and kisses me anyway!

    Praying for strength and courage for you.