Risa's Corrective Jaw Surgery

Hello! My name is Risa and I'm an ESL teacher in the urban core of Kansas City, MO. On June 4th, I will undergo double jaw surgery. Though I am insured through the school district, the insurance will not pay for my surgery. It will all have to come out of pocket. 

This procedure would help fix three things:

1. I have a Class III Malocclusion, which basically means that I have a bad underbite. As you can see from the photo below, my bottom jaw extends past my top jaw.

2. I also have an open bite, which means that my upper teeth and lower teeth do not touch. This makes biting into anything very difficult for me. This is literally the closest I can get my teeth to touching each other.  :( 

3. Lastly, I have a misaligned jaw. If you drew a line from my forehead to the bottom of my chin, you would notice that my face is not symmetrical.


While there are cosmetic benefits to having the jaw surgery, my primary focus is absolutely practical. For one, my jaw is in constant pain and discomfort from the strain on the muscles. I do not have Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), but my jaw constantly pops and clicks. I also get headaches 3-5 times a week and my surgeon thinks the jaw surgery may help alleviate tension in my face.

Basic functions like chewing and breathing are also expected to improve because of the surgery. After all, my teeth only touch at one point in my mouth and my dentist has said that if I do not get the surgery, my molar teeth will bear the harsh impact and I will likely have to get dentures very early in life if it continues.

They will be removing part of my bottom jaw and setting it further back (mandibular setback). They will also be moving forward my top jaw. Once they do this, plates and screws are used to secure the jaws into place. While the surgeon is there, he will also be expanding the palate of my mouth since it is very narrow. Splints will then be put into my mouth to help hold it into place. The good news is that they will not have to wire my mouth shut!

This is probably the most unfortunate part: my health insurance will not pay for the procedure. Under the plan I have, Blue Cross Blue Shield will only pay for Class III malocclusion surgeries “if any defect is diagnosed within 31 days of birth or...correction of a defect due to an accidental injury (within 12 months of accident).” Unfortunately, this was not a result of a recent accident and I’m just slightly over the 31 days after birth window. I did appeal through my insurance and was promptly denied.

To add insult to injury (or lack of injury), double jaw surgery usually ranges from about $40,000-50,000 out of pocket in the United States. WOW! After a ton of research over the last year and a half, I found a very experienced surgeon in Seattle that will do my surgery for about $17K. Praise the Lord! This price includes everything except for travel costs (making it about $19K altogether). 

Even with that HUGE discount in price, it will be a struggle for me and Jon to pay the fee out of pocket.  If you feel compelled to give in support of this surgery, you can do so here. Again, I hate asking for money for myself, but I want to give this opportunity if any of our “village” feels inclined to donate. Please do not feel compelled by guilt- we trust that the Lord will provide in whatever way He sees fit!

$7000 is our goal for now, which would cover a little more than 1/3 of the cost of surgery.

Cost Breakdown:
$5000- Upper jaw
$4000- Lower jaw
$5000- Surgical splints
$1200- CBCT Scans
$2000- Dental work-up fees

Travel to Seattle for 2 consultations- ~ $750
Travel to Seattle for surgery (one week stay)- ~$1000


  • Mike and Brandy Griffin 
    • $300 
    • 21 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $150 
    • 23 mos
  • Hannah/David Poindexter 
    • $100 
    • 23 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $60 
    • 23 mos
  • Paula Hance 
    • $100 
    • 23 mos
See all


Risa Woods 
Gladstone, MO
  • #1 fundraising platform

    People have raised more money on GoFundMe than anywhere else. Learn more

  • GoFundMe Guarantee

    In the rare case that something isn’t right, we will refund your donation. Learn more

  • Expert advice, 24/7

    Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more