Extreme Makeover Puts Orthognathic Surgery Front and Center

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Corrective jaw surgery made all the difference for Katie, the youngest person to appear on Extreme Makeover. Dr. Tim Silegy, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Long Beach, California, performed KatieÂ?s surgery.

A young Californian named Katie underwent orthognathic surgery to correct a protruding jaw in January. So far, 10 million people have seen the striking results of her surgery. The patient, 18 years old and college bound, was featured on the television reality series “Extreme Makeover.” Long Beach oral surgeon Tim Silegy, D.D.S., performed the procedure, and, in so doing, became the first oral and maxillofacial surgeon to appear on the show.

Each episode of “Extreme Makeover” takes viewers on a selected individual’s journey from “ugly duckling” to “swan.” The chosen person undergoes a dizzying array of cosmetic, and, in a few cases, therapeutic, procedures--everything from rhinoplasties, liposuctions and breast lifts, to porcelain veneers, chemical facial peels and Lasik eye surgery—whatever is needed to help them look their ultimate best. They undergo more elective cosmetic procedures than most people could ever afford on their own.

The April 14th episode marked the first time orthognathic surgery was involved in the transformation. In this show, it played a starring role.

Katie, the youngest person ever to appear on “Extreme Makeover,” needed orthognathic surgery for significant functional and esthetic reasons. She had been wearing braces for several years, but her mandible continued to grow, resulting in chewing problems and an unattractive underbite. “Orthodontics weren’t enough, and cosmetic dentistry alone wouldn’t have helped her,” Dr. Silegy says.    

“Normally, you have to be 21 to be on the show, but what interested the producers in her story was that it involved both a functional and cosmetic problem,” Dr. Silegy says. “This was a girl who had never moved on to womanhood because her braces kept her ‘trapped’ as a teenager.”

Dr. Silegy was approached to appear on the show by cosmetic dentist William M. Dorfman, D.D.S., a member of the program’s “extreme team” of doctors, trainers, estheticians and others who perform many of the procedures. Dr. Dorfman had read articles published by Dr. Silegy on orthognathic surgery and facial trauma in the Journal of the California Dental Association. “I’m on a mission to inform general dentists of the full scope of OMS practice,” notes Dr. Silegy, who practices in Long Beach, edits the California Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons’ newsletter and, until recently, was in charge of training the state’s oral surgery auxiliaries.

Already a patient of Dr. Silegy’s, Katie applied to appear on Extreme Makeover to facilitate her surgery. “Dr. Dorfman thought this would be great chance to show how profound the results of orthognathic surgery can be,” notes Dr. Silegy

Dr. Silegy spent 15 hours being followed by a camera crew throughout the initial consultation, preoperative appointments, surgery and follow-up appointments after Katie’s bandages had been removed.

According to Dr. Silegy, Katie was put on the “fast track” for the show. “We accelerated the process,” he says. “Her orthodontist, Dr. Sugiyama, had set up her case so well that she had a perfect bite after surgery. We used rigid fixation, which allowed us to take her braces off just three weeks after surgery.”

Participation in the program presented Dr. Silegy with a unique opportunity to work hand in hand with a plastic surgeon. Anthony Griffin, M.D., F.A.C.S., a member of the “extreme team” and a practitioner in Beverly Hills, performed a lip advancement and collagen filler on Katie’s unusually short (16 mm) upper lip after Dr. Silegy completed the mandibular osteotomy.

“It was great to be able to work with a really good plastic surgeon to achieve the maximum outcome,” Dr. Silegy says. It was also rewarding to care for a patient who had access to everything needed to achieve optimal results. “Often we are limited in what we can do by financial considerations,” he says. On “Extreme Makeover,” those limitations disappear. In addition to orthognathic surgery and plastic surgery, Katie also received some periodontal work to remedy a gummy smile, porcelain veneers from Dr. Dorfman, dermatological treatments, a makeup and hairstyle re-do, and a fashionable new wardrobe.

About Tim Silegy, D.D.S.

Dr. Silegy is a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon, and has been practicing for 10 years, the last 5 of which have been in Long Beach. In addition to private practice, Dr. Silegy teaches continuing education courses to physicians, dentists, nurses, hygienists and auxiliaries throughout the country. Courses focus on topics such as pain control, dental implants, medical emergencies, jaw surgery, and facial reconstruction. He has also traveled to Latin America on medical missions to help the impoverished. In addition to appearing on Extreme Makeover, he has been interviewed by several news agencies and periodicals.

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