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Stranger Things star Gaten Matarazzo heads into surgery for bone disorder

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Jan 30, 2020, 11:15 AM EST

Stranger Things star Gaten Matarazzo went into surgery this week to continue addressing a rare bone condition that's become a part of his character on the show. 

Matarazzo, 17, shared a photo on his Instagram page Wednesday that shows himself sitting in a hospital bed, giving a thumbs-up while also looking a bit apprehensive. In the caption for the photo, Matarazzo revealed that this is his fourth surgery to address cleidocranial displasia, a rare condition that impacts the growth of his teeth and his bones. Matarazzo didn't elaborate on what kind of surgery he was in for, but noted that it was a "big one."

Matarazzo's condition was actually written into his character, Dustin Henderson, in the first season of Stranger Things, when he explains the condition to a group of bullies. In Season 2, Dustin shows off his new dentures, mirroring Matarzzo's own experience with dental appliances while living with CCD. 

Though his Instagram post did not elaborate on his own recovery time for this particular surgery or what impact, if any, it would have on his hit Netflix series, he did make sure to point fans toward CCD Smiles, a nonprofit he works with to help others suffering from CCD to pay for dental surgeries and other assistance. 

In addition to helping found CCD Smiles with Dr. Kelly Wosnik in 2017, Matarazzo has remained open about his condition and its effect on his life in interviews ever since the debut of Stranger Things, even appearing on an episode of The Doctors for an in-depth discussion of his experience with CCD. According to Matarazzo, though he has what he's described as a "very mild case" of CCD, his condition led to rejection early in his career. 

“It’s one of the reasons why I haven’t been getting roles, because of my lisp, and the teeth situation, and my height,” he said while appearing on The Doctors in 2018. “That affected pretty much everything. I would go three times a week for auditions all the time and get constant ‘no.’ ”

When he auditioned for Stranger Things, though, that changed. 

“It really started out when I was stretching in the audition room. I was just [stretches] and they were like ‘Wait, wait, wait what did you just do?’ and I said, ‘What? I’m stretching’ and they said ‘No, do it again’s and they said ‘Why do you do that? Your shoulders are touching.’ … So I started explaining what it was and how I had a condition from birth that affects my teeth and everything," Matarazzo said. "That’s why I was missing teeth in the first season, and I still have my appliance in right now.”

We send Matarazzo our best wishes for a speedy recovery.