When she was 14 years old, Ellie Jones visited the orthodontist to talk about straightening up her teeth.
Unlike most teens, she was told it wasn’t as simple as just getting braces. The teenager from Rhyl, Wales, was instead diagnosed with a congenital facial deformity that meant her jaw had not grown since she was eight years old.
“I was quite shocked [at the diagnosis] but a part of me felt happy that I could get something sorted,” Jones told Mamamia.
"I was never self conscious about my jaw, because I didn't think or know anything was wrong with it but I was very self-conscious about my teeth because as you tell tell from the pictures they were very, very overcrowded. Now we know the reason why!"
The 20 year old spent the following six years undergoing reconstructive jaw surgery to fix the problem, which involved cutting her jaw horizontally and vertically as well as corrective surgery on her chin.
"It was a very scary time for me as I have never been in hospital for anything before, so my first time going was to have this massive surgery which took over eight hours," she said.
"My parents were told initially it'd only be four hours so you can imagine what they must of been feeling and thinking when I didn't come out of the theatre for another four."
Image: The Daily Post/Ellie Jones
The recovery was even more difficult.
"It wasn't painful, it was more uncomfortable than anything. The fact that I couldn't move my head, face or jaw because it was so swollen was just felt irritating. I also had to eat and drink out of a syringe for at least a month afterwards so that was really strange," she said.
"After the surgery I had lots of dried blood in my mouth which felt like I was choking when I was trying to sleep."
After six weeks of liquids, she was put on a soft diet for six months after the surgery because she was unable to bite properly.
Watch: Mia Freedman answers the question she always gets asked about her teeth. Post continues after video.
While the surgery has changed Jones aesthetically, it's the internal changes that have had the biggest impact.
"I can honestly say the surgery has changed me into the person I have always wanted to be but couldn't before, I'm more confident, outgoing and I feel I can wear the latest fashion. Before I was always to worried I would get stared at," she says.
"It has also changed my career choices in life. I've always wanted to be a photographer but I always thought that being that close to people would make me feel embarrassed. Now I'm training to be one."
According to Jones' consultant maxillofacial surgeon Emma Woolley, more than 100 patients with similar problems are seen at the Glan Clwyd centre, but this one was particularly severe.
"A lot of people don’t actually realise they have a jaw deformity, and just accept that they have difficulties biting. By not treating it at a young age, it can cause real difficulties later in life," she told The Daily Post.
While no-one ever said anything about Jones' jaw pre-surgery except for "a few snid comments from high school kids," the reaction to the results was entirely positive. (Post continues after gallery.)
"Now I just feel normal. It’s worth the year of pain and my mum said what’s a year compared to the rest of your life,” she told The Daily Post.
"I used to dance and I used to be afraid to come to the front but after I had it done my dance teacher said she could see the difference in my confidence. I was shy but now I feel really confident. It’s changed my whole life."
Have you had a similar experience?