T-Minus 1 Day

I go in for double jaw surgery tomorrow morning. I’m set to arrive at the hospital at 7:30 am. Surgery begins at 10:30 am. Why it takes 3 hours to put an IV in, I’ll never know. Anyways, I’m walking over. I figure I should enjoy my last morning of breathing easy for awhile.

I have 2 weeks booked off from work and I’ve arranged to stay at my parent’s place for the first week or so of my recovery. I have no idea what that recovery will entail, but it sounds like a fairly invasive procedure, so I imagine there won’t be much eating or moving of any kind involved.

So far, my biggest fear is the IV. I absolutely loathe needles. That sounds weird, I know, coming from a guy with several tattoos, but it’s the honest truth. I have friends who say they love watching the needle pierce through their flesh whenever they’re donating blood, but I think they’re crazy.

The surgeon has told me to expect a full recovery in 90 days. I’ll be documenting that, each and every day, right here, along with pictures.


  1. My son who was born with a cleft lip and palate is having both upper and lower jaws broken and aligned as well as bone grafting in his upper front gum line. He is terrified and after reading the long recovery, I’m not going to lie, I am too. I don’t tell him that , however. He has been trying to talk me out of having him do it, but he really needs it to improve his breathing, health of his teeth long term, and appearance. Any advice on how I can help ease some anxiety. How bad is the pain? Manageable or is it really tough to struggle through.

    How did you spend your first weeks post op? He is very worried about being super bored as well. He is 17 and sitting/laying around really isn’t his thing. How many weeks would you say he would be out of school? How many days/weeks should I take off to stay with him. Knowing what you went through, would you do it again? Was it worth it. Thanks for any responses.

    • You’ll need 1 week off work, he will need 2 weeks off school.

      It’s certainly not easy but totally do able he’ll survive and be happy once he’s made it through.

  2. Hello,

    I am so glad I came across this blog. My surgery was 4 days ago so I believe the worst is pretty much over. But there are a couple of things that is so hard getting used to.
    1. Not being able to blow my nose. My doctor told me to use a nose spray to deal with the clogging. However, my nose is so clogged up that it blocks the spray from going up.
    2. The jaw splint. It’s only been 4 days and it’s driving me crazy. It feels like a piece of thick ham is stuck to the roof of my mouth. How were you able to get used to it?

  3. My son is 1 day after surgery and wore a ice pack mask at the hosp now he is home he is still using ice packs but when should he swap to heat packs x

  4. Hello, My name is Chris Tillery. I’m a 25 year old Marketing Director from Indianapolis, Indiana…

    I guess you could say that I am at Day 0-0-0-0-0, 5 Days, 21 Hours, 40 Minutes, 14 seconds… but who’s counting. Today is January 21, 2016, and surgery is on Wednesday, January 27, 2016.

    I will be having double jaw surgery. I have a class 2 or 3 (I forget) overbite. I wore Invisalign for 6 months (just wasn’t in the mood for braces at the time), and now have had braces on for 3 months. I had braces when I was younger… and now I’m 25. But I know once surgery is over, it’s countdown until these bad boys come off.

    I had a massive “Open Bite” my entire life. We actually call it the “Tillery Open Bite”. Issues from mouth breathing, snoring, my back teeth actually click when I talk, have to roll my tongue in a way when I talk to keep my teeth from click (which would cause crazy tongue ties when talking). Funny thing is, I can actually stick my tongue out of my mouth without opening my mouth. Another issue you have when you have an open bite/overbite, when your face is at rest – you actually can’t close your lips normally – you have to force them shut. So my mouth is constantly open when at rest or I have to force my lips to stay together. In pictures that I might be in – my mouth is wide open. I just don’t ever realize it. I’m an amateur golfer – so I always have that “focused face” – and my mouth is just hanging down to the ground. haha. Same thing when I played baseball throughout high school and college. Mouth wide open.

    So Invisalign brought my teeth down from an open bite to an overbite. And now surgery is finally ready to arrive.

    I went in last week to have final impressions/models taken with my orthodontist to send to the oral surgeon – I wasn’t to “best” Invisalign rule follower, so the braces helped move what was needed, and they were both double checking everything was good to go. The question at hand is if they will only have to do the top jaw (aparently my there’s a chance my bottom jaw wouldn’t need surgery… but my luck.. both will happen)… so both jaws will probably happen.

    Oh, did I mention that my Dad was a dentist as well? Yee-Haaah! Oh, and I also work at the dental office. I am in charge of all of our Marketing. But that’s actually helped A LOT! When the oral surgeon or the orthodontist have said something that I just didn’t understand, my Dad was there to help me out to explain it in my terms to understand. My sister and mom also work at the office with me, so they have been a huge support system. I may live with the dentist, I may work for one… but dentistry still scares me. I think it scares everyone a least a little – right up there with clowns, and the word “Moist”, I hear people don’t like that word so I find it funny.

    So, this leads to my countdown to surgery.

    And Graham, I want to thank you for this blog you kept during your surgery, process, recovery, everything. I was reading a few of your days, and I’m actually feeling I guess I could say.. more confident. I am a HUGE fact finder, and you’ve really helped me with that.

    What you’ve helped me on:
    – What to expect daily
    – Recovery Tips
    – Recovery Timeline
    – Products to have for Recover

    But even with some of the humor you put in your blogs crack me up. I’ve even told everyone who comes to visit:
    – Don’t you dare bring down a massive steak or something that smells amazing
    – No making me laugh

    Do I know this is going to suck? Yes…
    But in the long run, I know this is going to help me physically, mentally, I’ll be healthier when it comes to sleeping, eating, and talking.. I just know this will help.

    But this weekend! It’s party time! Well, sort of. With surgery next week on Wednesday… I’m working Monday and Tuesday, so with actually being at a dental office – surgery will be on my mind all day.

    So this weekend, Friday I am headed to my golf faculty I work out at and playing a round of virtual golf (Indiana, 10 degrees and snow, so I’ll be inside), then Friday night hitting up the casino with my Mom – Steak Dinner and trying to become a millionaire. Saturday, going to see some family down South, then shopping for my recovery food items. Sunday, hitting up the Indy Fuel Hockey game (Our ECHL team that’s an affiliate with the Chicago Blackhawks), and on Sundays after games, you actually get to skate with the players… so I’m really looking forward to that. The Sunday night just relaxing with my girlfriend.

    Just trying to stay busy and keep surgery off my mind.

    I guess questions if you can answer some for me Graham:
    – Sneezing?
    – Yawning?
    – How did brushing go?
    – What was your favorite smoothie? This is a big thing on my mind, because like you said… I will probably get sick of Ensures real quick!
    – Did you get any sores or anything like that inside your mouth?
    – Get any cold sores from lips being too chapped?
    – How did you feel about a month out? I know what your blog says but maybe you could say something to me again. Reason why I’m asking… surgery is January 27 – on February 28th, I have a Tee Time at TPC Scottsdale. Kind of a once in a lifetime (Unless somehow I make it to the tour)… even if I have to get drugged up.. really want to play.

    So I fell like I’m blogging on your blog. But I wanted to thank you again for what you did on this site. If you could answer those questions that would be fantastic!

    Thank you again, and I will for sure keep you posted and send you a message on how everything goes.

    I will also be kind of blogging on my Facebook page if you want to check in on that as well.


    Thanks again Graham!

    – Cheers

    • Hi Chris, it sounds like you’re in good hands considering your father is a dentist and you work right there in the dental clinic. I can’t think of a better team to have in your corner for this sort of surgery. 😁

      To answer your questions:

      1) Sneezing: It’s only natural and it will happen. It should not cause any problems.

      2) Yawning: Again, it’s natural and will happen. You can attempt to “suffocate” your yawns for the first month to avoid the pain of split lips, but they don’t cause any real harm beyond that.

      3) Brushing your teeth: I rinsed with warm salt water several times each day for the first 2 weeks. Once my surgeon gives you permission to start brushing, make sure you approach it with gentleness.

      4) Favorite smoothie: My favorite smoothie, hands down, was the peanut butter oatmeal one. Lots of calories packed in there!

      5) Sores inside my mouth: I had a few sores at first, but nothing serious. They were just general raw skin and healed up as soon as I was able to start drinking more water to wash the acid in my mouth away.

      6) Cold sores: Cold sores are actually a type of herpes (herpes simplex virus), so if you haven’t had them before, this surgery will not change that. However, if you already get cold sores once in a while, you will likely continue to get them during recovery due to having a temporarily weakened immune system. The surgery should not affect them beyond that.

      7) Golfing: You should be okay to golf after 1 month of recovery. Your speech may still be a bit difficult to understand and you may be slightly lacking in energy, but as long as you take it easy, you won’t have any problems.

      Good luck in the casino this weekend and let me know how your surgery goes! 😄

    • Hi am post op 8 days feel great had plenty too eat going in tomorrow to see the surgeon think it might be time
      FOR elastics also my nose won’t stop running with snot it’s horrible! Can you tell me when this clears up

  5. I was wondering if having the operation dramatically effects she shape of your nose?

  6. I too have a deathly fear of needles probably because of being poked numerous times in three previous surgeries. So when they tried to put the IV in I flipped. Finally they agreed to put me out with gas before the IV. I went in and I remember a light and the mask then I was out. If you’re as afraid of needles that’s an option but it is more dangerous.

  7. Hi Graham,

    Wish I came across your blog even earlier. I’m having my double jaw surgery for severe underbite (lower jaw is 1cm farther than upper jaw) in 9 hours.

    I’m reading some of your recovery tips and starting with Day 1. Thanks for creating this blog! I will be reading it for the next few days in the hospital. I know it will make me feel better and endure the pain and swelling. I’m looking forward to looking prettier and finally being able to use my teeth other than my molars for eating basically anything after full recovery!

  8. Hello there, I have exactly 6 hours left until my surgery and I just can’t sleep at all! So I did some extra research on jaw surgery and stumbled upon this. Lucky me!!! I shall be reading your journey everyday after surgery. A bit nervous but it should be fine. To be quite honest with you… The only biggest fear right now is being wide awake throughout the whole jaw procedure!! Yikes…

  9. Hi there… just checking on if you can recommend any orthodentist – -jaw alignment/ facial construction in South Africa, Cape Town

  10. Hi Graham,
    You are quite a find on this subject. I am 6 days post op for moving lower jaw forward and top jaw up and across, and they took my wisdom teeth out, with some bone attached ( don’t know the technical terms). I nearly did not go ahead with the op as had hypertension and on 3rd time approach I was a jittering wreck crying in front of the consultant as he further laid the bare facts out, all extremely negative and frightening possibilities. I am 47 and have kids, and you feel so guilty going through with it because of the fact that you are choosing to have the surgery, even though if you don’t later in life you will be sucking food through a straw. I have degenerative jaw joints with a bit of arthritis to boot, and jaw pain, headaches, catch flies all day, and can’t talk properly. Anyways I went ahead and the most important thing I felt to remember is that you remember nothing, from not even remembering going to sleep to being woken in recovery, that was the bit that scared me most. The bit they don’t tell you about and I have had different advice (uk) is that you can’t blow your nose for 6 weeks and that you suffer blood collections behind your nose, which make breathing really difficult when your mouth is shut with elastics and swollen. I had to go on oxygen for the first couple of days to help. At home I soak cotton buds in cold water and very carefully damp them around the rim of my nostrils and it seems to open the airwaves just enough to help breathing. I started with the Vaseline as soon as I came around, I put it on all the time it has really helped. I only have a little gap to eat through and I have not been able to suck through a straw, but I have found a dolls spoon which I can put at the front of my mouth and suck through, it takes about an hour to eat anything, but patience is the key. I blend whatever I have made for everyone and eat that, I soak mashed potato in soup, very runny consistency and I soak 1 weetabix in about half a pint of milk and drink it. I can’t do consecutive swallowing so I tip some of the drink in, some down my front, then swallow, I check to make sure there isn’t too much to swallow, it’s all so numb. I am not having any hot food in case I burn myself. The pain issue is spot on, they could not believe it in hospital that I was not in any pain, it only kicked in on day 3 when the consultant put the elastics on and moved my jaw to its correct position, the swelling preventing it from doing so naturally, and old habits of posturing. I am currently a delightful yellow canary colour, which I assume is a good sign that the bruising is getting better. I took vitamin and iron tablets for about 1 month before surgery, which bearing in mind how much weight is dropping off I am very glad of now. I am going to get some prune juice as that is one area I am struggling in, and drink even more water, I thought I was drinking enough.
    Thank you again for doing this blog it has really helped me realise that I am not weird and unusual and that no we’re not doing it to be next top model, more so that we can do stuff people take for granted, like bite a baguette, bite Sellotape with you teeth. The operation has certainly made me look at lots of things in a different light, especially toward the elderly and stroke victims and how much care to get better they really need, when you think how long it takes to feed yourself when your face is numb, and communication difficult.

    • Lottie, just so you’re aware, everything you mentioned sounds perfectly normal and expected during these initial weeks of recovery. It sounds like you’re still in the difficult stage, but in the next couple of weeks, your swelling will subside quite a lot and you’ll be able to drink from a cup (hot, blended soup from a cup, yay!) and sleep through the night. Try to stay positive, remember that this surgery was for medically necessary reasons, and that there are others out there who understand what you’re going through right now. =)

  11. Graham, thank you for this blog. My husband had surgery two days ago and is due to be discharged today. Since I didn’t go to any of his pre-op appts, I have no idea what to expect when he’s home. I’m sure the docs will tell me what to do when I pick him up, but I’m glad I have this blog to go to.

    • Mimi, your husband is lucky to have you there by his side during recovery. He’ll likely be quite frustrated for the first couple of weeks due to difficulties communicating and eating. As long as he gets out for walks each day and has smoothies and soup ready to eat, he’ll get through this and be back in action in a few short months. =)

  12. Hey! I am actually in the third day of my lower jaw surgery…. And the worst part for me is being unable to eat! I am an athlete and I’m terrified that I’m going to loose a lot of mussel weight. I haven’t had loads of pain but haven’t been comfortable either. The surgeon gave me an ice pack that goes around my head…. But it’s so heavy it makes my neck hurt super bad. Also I’m a side sleeper so every day I wake up to my right side being more swollen than my left! Any suggestions on how to get my neck to stop hurting and to force myself to sleep on my back?? Thanks!

    • Cayla, the frustrating truth is that sleep will not come easy until the first 2 weeks are over. Placing heat packs on your face and propping your head up on pillows will be the best you can do. Stay positive, though, because once those first few weeks are in the past, you’ll have no trouble sleeping through the night. =)

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