Under the Knife: 22 athletes share behind-the-scenes photos from surgery
"Human version of the dreaded K-9 cone," 26-year-old golfer Rory McIlroy joked about his eye mask following recent laser eye surgery. It's one of the less invasive procedures we'll look at in this gallery showing back the sobering occupational hazard of sports: injuries, and lots of them. Fortunately, modern medicine affords most athletes the opportunity to return to competition. Maybe that's why many of the athletes across the sports landscape who've shared these pre- and post-surgery photos with their supporters are smiling. Warning: A few of the images are graphic.
Joel Embiid (June 2014)
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid posted this photo to his Instagram account before doctors inserted screws into his foot to repair a fracture that still ailing the big man.
Aroldis Chapman (March 2014)
The Reds closer got his head laced like a baseball with staples after suffering multiple fractures from a line drive comebacker during spring training.
Lindsey Vonn (January 2014)
The U.S. Olympic skier benefits from the healing powers of her dog, Leo, after an ACL reconstruction surgery in her right knee.
Brian Orakpo (October 2014)
The Washington Redskins defeated the Tennessee Titans on October 20 but lost linebacker Brian Orakpo to a torn pectoral muscle that ended his season. At least the team made good on his message.
Braxton Miller (August 2014)
A two-time Big Ten player of the year, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller didn't get to see a snap of the 2014 season after tearing the labrum in his (right) throwing shoulder. The one and only Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery, and eyed the right lens for this photo.
Paul George (August 2014)
Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski embraces George in the hospital. The Pacers forward suffered a gruesome compound fracture in his right leg after falling awkwardly on a stanchion during an intrasquad scrimmage with the U.S. national team.
Kobe Bryant (April 2013)
This is the first image Bryant ever shared on Instagram, the day after he tore his Achilles tendon. Kobe activated "Mamba Mode" for this photo; it's usually pretty disheartening to enter the MRI tube.
Daniel Bryan (May 2014)
Daniel Bryan went from WrestleMania XXX heavyweight champion in April to surgical patient in May. The WWE star underwent a procedure in his neck known as a "cervical foraminotomy," to decompress a nerve root and repair a lingering issue.
Anderson Silva (January 2014)
This shot shows Silva during his rehab several days after surgery to repair his gruesome leg break, which came courtesy of a leg check by middleweight champion Chris Weidman at UFC 168.
Matt Harvey (October 2013)
Well, they all manage the emotion of reconstructive surgery a little bit differently. Harvey will return to the mound for the Mets in 2015 after missing the entire 2014 season recovering from Tommy John surgery that mended a partially torn UCL in his throwing arm.
Christian Ehrhoff (April 2014)
Hey, we did warn you! The former Sabres and now Penguins defenseman shared the before and after (and during!) photo from the surgery to stitch up the ear damage from a puck that drilled him.
Amy Van Dyken-Rouen (June 2014)
The six-time Olympic gold medalist U.S. swimmer suffered a devastating spinal injury not in the pool but as a result of an ATV accident. The trauma partially paralyzed her from the waist down, but after extensive rehabilitation, she was able to take her first steps post-accident in August 2014.
Kevin Ware (April 2013)
Well, you probably recall what happened to the former Louisville guard. His teammates who watched the gruesome bone-sticking-from-body leg break in front of the team's bench during an Elite Eight game against Duke will certainly never forget. Post-recovery, Ware transferred to Georgia State.
Andy Murray (September 2013)
The Scottish tennis pro elected to undergo a procedure to correct a pair of lower back problems that had hampered him.
Giancarlo Stanton (September 2014)
The Marlins slugger had his Halloween makeup done for free when a pitch struck him in the face, causing multiple facial fractures, lacerations and some dental damage. Stanton's injuries requried some touching up and stitches but fortunately he didn't need more invasive surgery.
Kevin Strootman (March 2014)
The Roma midfield star had to sit out Netherlands' World Cup run after tearing the ACL in his left knee. "Surgery went well," he wrote on Twitter. "Full focus on my rehabilitation now. Thank you all again for all the support!!"
Chris Weidman (March 2014)
The UFC middleweight champion's title defense took a small setback in March due to a minor knee injury, but Weidman was back in the Octagon in July when he defeated Lyoto Machida in five rounds by unanimous decision.
Sue Bird (May 2013)
The Seattle Storm veteran point guard is also a veteran of surgery. The procedure to fix up her left knee in 2013 was the fourth surgery she's endured; previously she had her knee scoped and both hip labrums repaired.
Greg Norman (September 2014)
The popular Australian golfer is the only athlete in this collection to have injured himself in a chainsaw accident. In case his Instagram caption is a bit too small, he wrote: "Working with a chainsaw ALWAYS be respectful of the unexpected. I was one lucky man today. Damaged, but not down & out. Still have left hand."
Ashlyn Harris (December 2013)
The U.S. Women's National Team and Washington Spirit goalkeeper pumped her fist before arthroscopic knee surgery, a signal she was ready for the laughing gas. Count backwards from 10... nine... eigh-zzz.
Travis Pastrana (February 2014)
A man of many motor sports, Pastrana shared video from the actual surgery on his leg. “I don’t remember most of the injuries," Pastrana once said, "there have been too many.”
Bryce Harper (April 2014)
The Nationals outfielder was forced to trade his glove for a sling in April after tearing a thumb ligament when sliding into third base on a triple. Harper was back in the majors before the end of June.