A man had to have facial reconstruction surgery after falling from a three-storey building and breaking every bone in his face.
Justin Starks, 24, plunged around 30ft from his apartment balcony in Stanford, California, last November.
He landed directly on his chin, splitting his jaw in half on impact and shattering all 14 bones in his face.
The software engineer has had to go through two grueling operations, the first of which involved holding his face together with 90 screws.
A second procedure involved ‘peeling’ off his skin and rebuilding the bones in his face, as well as wiring his jaw shut to give them time to heal.
He has lost nearly 30lbs in the last six months because has been living on a mostly liquid diet to avoid chewing.
Miraculously, Mr Starks suffered no damage to his skull or brain, which he believes is due to his face taking the brunt of the fall.
Justin Starks (before and after the fall), 24, plunged around 30ft from his apartment balcony in Stanford, California, last November
He landed directly on his chin, splitting his jaw in half on impact and shattering all 14 bones in his face. The software engineer has had to go through two grueling operations, the first of which involved ‘peeling’ off his skin and rebuilding the bones in his face (shown after that op)
On the road to recovery: He’s pictured immediately after his reconstruction surgery in January (left) and in May (right) six months after the accident
Mr Starks said he cannot remember what he was doing on the day of the fall on November 31. The last thing he remembers was waking up in the ICU.
He said: ‘While I do not remember the impact, I do know that I landed on my chin.
‘I know that because my chin split open and reverberated throughout the rest of my face and broke literally every single bone in my face; my jaw on both sides, my nasal bone.
‘The doctors were extremely shocked to see the damage to my face, but specifically, the fact I had no fractures to my skull at all.’
He added: ‘The last thing I remembered was being on my balcony, I don’t actually remember falling, I don’t remember hitting the ground.
‘A lot of people tell me ‘oh my god that must be the most painful experience imaginable,’ but I simply do not remember.
Mr Starks broke all 14 of facial bones, including his cheeks, nose, eye sockets and upper jaw.
He was kept in hospital for two weeks, where doctors inserted more than 90 screws to hold his fragile bones together.
Doctors also fused his jaw back together, which meant he had to be put on a liquid diet initially, which was basically ‘broth and water’, he said.
Mr Starks gradually progressed to soft solid meals like porridge that he didn’t “need to chew.’ He lost around two-and-a-half stone (13.6kg) in this time.
A month later, in January this year, Mr Starks went under the knife for a second time on Martin Luther King Day.
Doctors used 3D printing technology to reconstruct his face.
They took a scan of Mr Starks’ face and used the virtual model to print titanium implants that were an exact fit.
Mr Starks had to see a psychiatrist for issues relating to post-traumatic stress disorder. After the second facial reconstruction surgery, his face began to swell on the left side. He said the bout of facial swelling that he endured prompted some insecurities with the way he looked
The procedure involved having cutting into the top of his head from ear to ear so they could peel back his face and ‘put him back together’, as he puts it.
Mr Starks was in the intensive care unit for three days following the surgery and the progress he made up until that point was set back.
He said that he gained some strength in between the first and second surgery, even going on five-mile walks and talking with his mouth closed.
After the second surgery, his strength was reduced, and he felt ‘weak generally’ having to be carried upstairs by his dad and brother.
By February he began the bulk of his recovery and regaining the strength that he had lost and began training in the gym again.
By May he said the swelling had reduced massively and the facial reconstruction ‘was looking pretty good’, and he was able to return to work.
His injury didn’t just come with the physical damage but carried some mental health issues as well.
Mr Starks had to see a psychiatrist for issues relating to post-traumatic stress disorder.
After the second facial reconstruction surgery, his face began to swell on the left side.
He said the bout of facial swelling that he endured prompted some insecurities with the way he looked.
He said: ‘I used to consider myself a pretty attractive guy and to go out and look in a mirror and see my face swollen and puffy and not what I wanted it to be.
‘I did have some insecurities about that.’
But despite his insecurities, Mr Starks said that he had seen improvements each week that goes by compared to the previous week, saying ‘I do think I look pretty good all things considered.’
The whole facial reconstruction surgery will take around one year to properly complete and recover.
Starks is set to have another surgery that addresses problems with the roof of his mouth and his teeth.
Once the third and final surgery is complete, he said that he will be on his way to feeling ‘one hundred per cent normal.’