Cancer patient, Val Blunden, Wolverhampton, has grown her jaw back after the bottom of her mouth and chin was destroyed by cancer more than two years ago.
The 55-year-old cancer patient was left unable to eat, drink and subjected her to early retirement from her job as a postwoman.
Surgeons from Nottingham and Wolverhampton had to reconstruct her jaw using a new procedure called distraction osteogenesis by “stretching” her own tissue and bone around a frame.
Dilip Srinivasan, a maxillofacial surgeon at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust who spoke on this noted it was the first time the procedure was been used in this way even though the process has been in existence for a number of years.
Mr. Srinivasan, said: “We have been able to achieve this in a few operations before, but we’d never attempted it on a patient missing bone, skin and muscles.
“When there’s no jaw, there’s no shape to follow, and if there’s no shape to follow everything will grow in a straight line,” he said.
A frame built at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham has acted as “scaffolding”, and since an operation in January the jaw has grown 9cm.
It is hoped the final surgery to remove the frame will take place in May.
Ms Blunden, first found a lump underneath her tongue in January 2015 and following diagnosis had her glands, chin, lower lip and part of her tongue removed.
After two previous attempts to reconstruct her jaw using skin grafts failed, and with her being unable to use a prosthetic replacement she hopes the procedure will improve her life.
Ms Blunden, had this to say: “Having lived like this for two years I’d begun to accept that this is how life was going to be, but now I’m so much more hopeful for a different future.”