Common Questions

Following is a list of the most common questions I’ve received about double jaw surgery. If your question is not answered below, feel free to ask about it in the comments and I’d be happy to respond there.

Before the surgery:

After the surgery:

Cries for help:


Why should I get jaw surgery?

There are several reasons to undergo jaw surgery:

  • To be able to chew with all your teeth
  • To speak without a lisp
  • To speak without spitting
  • To stop your mouth from hanging open
  • To stop breathing through your mouth and start breathing through your nose
  • To change your appearance (side profile)

These reasons are all explained on the Reasons to Get Jaw Surgery page.

Is jaw surgery painful?

Jaw surgery is usually not painful. This may be difficult to believe, but since your nerves become bruised and numb during the surgery, you don’t actually feel any of the pain. By the time feeling returns to your face, most of the pain is gone.

Granted, you’ll experience a bit of pain when you yawn, sneeze and cough. It’ll also hurt when your jaw spasms (and it will spasm for the first month), but for the most part, you should not experience much pain at all.

How long does it take to recover from jaw surgery?

It will take 90 days (3 months) for a full recovery after jaw surgery. Most of your feeling and energy will be back after 2 months, but it takes a full 90 days for your bone to fuse back together. A full range of motion in your jaw will return depending on how much you’re moving it around, so make sure you follow the exercises your surgeon gives you.

How much does jaw surgery cost?

Jaw surgery costs roughly $5000 in Canada, but that price may differ significantly in other provinces and countries. If your surgery is deemed cosmetic (instead of “medically necessary”), the cost will be higher because you’ll be required to cover the hospital bills. Sadly, patients in the US have seen jaw surgery bills in excess of $50,000.

What should I buy to prepare for recovery?

You can find a full list of items that with help you through the recovery at the Must-Have Recovery Products page.


Will I look different after jaw surgery?

You will notice subtle changes in your appearance following jaw surgery. Your overbite/underbite will no longer be present and your cheeks, nose, and chin may take on a different shape as well. My cheeks filled out a lot as a result of my surgery.

How much weight will I lose after jaw surgery?

Most people lose between 5–10 pounds during the first month of their recovery. The general rule of thumb is that you will lose weight until you reach your natural body weight.

Will I experience numbness after jaw surgery?

Yes, you will experience extreme numbness following jaw surgery. During the operation, several nerves in your face and chin have to be moved around. When you move a nerve, it becomes bruised, and when a nerve is bruised, it stops providing sensations, thus giving you that numb feeling (more on this in my Day 20 post).

Will I get all of my feeling back after jaw surgery?

70% of patients regain full feeling, while 30% may experience slightly numb areas in their cheeks, chin and lower lip for the rest of their lives. The feeling you have after 6 months post-op is likely what you’ll live with for the rest of your life.

What can I eat after jaw surgery?

You’ll be on a strict liquid diet following jaw surgery. Buy lots of Boost, Ensure or Carnation supplements and learn to make smoothies, because these will be your staple foods for at least the first 2 weeks. I had to eat them for 8 weeks, but my surgery was a bit more invasive than most. You’ll probably have to administer your food through a syringe for the first week as well.

Once your surgeon gives you permission to start chewing again, you can begin to eat soft foods such as pasta and mashed potatoes. During the weeks following your re-entry into the realm of chewing, you’ll be able to eat whatever is comfortable. Don’t expect to tear into a steak as soon as you’re allowed to chew again, though.

If you have the following implements, you should survive perfectly fine:

  • A reliable blender (this is extremely important, as you’ll be blending almost everything)
  • Smoothie materials (ice cream, yogurt, milk, bananas, strawberries, granola, peanut butter, honey, etc.) — Recipe
  • Soup (you’ll have to blend everything except tomato soup)
  • Ensure, Boost or Carnation (I drank 3 of these per day during my liquid diet phase)
  • Prune juice (you’ll need the fiber in it)
  • Whole milk (you’ll need all the calcium you can get so your bones heal back just as strong as they were before)
  • Water (make sure you drink at least 1 L of water per day; drinking 2 L per day is a much better option)

The most important item on that list is water. If you don’t drink enough water each day, you’ll become dehydrated and sick, and your bowel movements won’t feel good because none of the fiber you’re eating will dissolve into your body.


Help, I’m experiencing pain!

If your pain is chronic (ie. consistent and throbbing), you may have an infection and should schedule a visit with your surgeon just to be safe.

On the other hand, if your pain comes in small bouts, it’s likely your nerves reawakening or your teeth being pulled by the elastics. In this case, just be patient and the pain will subside in due time. If you were prescribed pain medication, that may help as well.

Help, my breath is terrible!

At times, your breath may be indicative of the fact that you are not allowed to brush your teeth or floss during the first several weeks of recovery. To aid in freshening your breath, try gurgling with warm salt water a few times each day. Soon enough, you’ll be given the go-ahead to brush and floss again.

Help, my teeth are no longer touching!

An open bite is a common problem following jaw surgery. Fear not, however, because your teeth will naturally grow until they encounter opposition (in the form of your other jaw), so this problem will slowly correct itself over time.

Help, my jaw movement is not returning!

If you have been given the green light to resume eating regular food, but the movement in your jaw doesn’t seem to be returning, try whistling and chewing gum each day. Whistling will help to break up scar tissue, while chewing gum will stretch the muscles in your jaw.

Help, I don’t look like myself anymore!

This is perhaps the most common fear people have following jaw surgery. Remember that swelling takes a minimum of 3 months to go away, so try to avoid judging your appearance until that point.

Also, keep in mind that you are your own worst critic because you’ve been seeing your face in the mirror every single day for most of your life. While the subtle changes in your appearance seem drastic to you, most people will not even notice that your face changed shape.

Want to chat live with other patients?

Recovering from jaw surgery can be lonely. That's why several of us hang out in a live chat group where we support each other before the surgery and during the recovery. There are over 75 people from 20 countries chatting right now and it's free to join.

(example of a recent conversation)

39 Comments

  1. Hi I have another question I’m 4 weeks now post op upper/lower chin surgery I still have my splint in as well…but my question is it normal to not be able to pucker up my lips or for example today I wore lipstick and could not rub them together as us females tend to do after putting on lipstick I’m abit worried ? Will I be able to do all that after the splints out or ever ? Thank you 🙏🏽

    • Hi Alexandra, I’m just over 3 months post op and rubbing my lipstick in with my lips is fine now. It was harder at first as my lips and the area above were do rigid, but this will ease. I feel my brace in the way a bit as they press on your top lip when you do it (which wasn’t a problem when I had an underbite of course 😊). I’m hoping my braces will come off soon as I know it will be fine after this. If you are like me, your lips will feel like they sunburnt for a while but that fades every week. Good luck with your recovery, hope all progresses well. Mel 😉

  2. Hi Graham!! It’s me Rachel I’m almost 9 months post op and I had some ?? For you… I still feel my face stiff when does your face start feeling normal without feeling stiff? Also my gums are still numb And feel sensitive and I get electric shocks around the areas that are numb like my lower lip.. Is that normal and would it get better? If anyone could answer I would love to hear your response.. 😁

    • Hi Rachel, hope your keeping well. I am 6 1/2 months now and I still feel numbness in my gums and teeth and really sensitive teeth and gums one side. How are you liking your appearance now? Has your nose improved? I am still adjusting. I find its so hard to get into any photographs as for some reason I look way worse in photos than I do when i look in the mirror. I don’t know why. Although I definitely have slowly improved over the last few mounts, I still hate my nose. I am really unhappy about it because it is not right. Apart from being wider, its lob sided, one of my airways is so restricted, I can barely though it. I have been mouth breathing more now than I ever was. I am constantly getting sore throats. I have not seen my surgeon since 2 months post op and I have an appointment to see him next month finally. I am hoping he can give me some answers.

  3. AUGUST 25, 2016 AT 12:28 PM
    Hi i have a question, ive had emetophobia my entire life ( extreme fear of vomiting) and ot has stopped me from getting this surgery. I have severe tmj issues already( overjet & missing teeth that never grew in after baby teeth+ bad braces ) and I really need this surgery. Is there any way to 100% avoid throwing up. Im willing to do just about anything to not throw up. I can take a little bt of nausea but me throwing up will cause me to be seerly traumatozed and i willl stop eating completelt ( it has landed me in the hospital for weeks being so malnurished at one point due to my daughter being sick and the fear of contamination) so does everyone vomit/get sick? Or is there a way ro prevent it.

    • Hi Robin,
      I am in the same boat as you – even just typing/thinking/saying the V word starts me feeling bad and shakey 🙁

      Speak to your surgeon as they will be able to give you massive doses of anti-emetics – I have to have before, during and after – more than 2 people’s doses to work, also, they might be able to offer you acupuncture – my surgeon did this for my wisdom tooth removal (General) and will do it for this surgery too (scheduled for first op for TMJ soon) and for second op (removal of active growth plate of condyle and breaking of jaw to move it all back properly).

      Good luck and really hope this happens for you xxx
      Jo

      • Hi Robin and Jo

        I haven’t got your condition (feel for you both! 😔) but I was concerned about being sick after surgery too as I was sick loads after my spinal surgery and childbirth meds going back a few years. I’m just the sort of person that feels sick/is sick at the smallest trigger. Good news was that anaesthetic is much more advanced and I wasn’t sick when I woke up as I’d feared and felt absolutely fine. My surgery was 3 months ago. When I first drank fluids a short while after waking I was sick, but there was no reaching and it was a gentle and easy reflex type action that was over in a second. Because of the meds I wasn’t really that aware I was being sick and the nurses were great. Its really important you drink to increase oxygen levels in your blood so you need to do that as soon as you can. You will be okay – as Jo says if your anaesthetist is aware they can manage the anti-sickness drugs you are given. I was given them to stop me being sick again. You meet with your anaesthetist before you go in and go through all the arrangements at your pre-op appointment the week before as well as discussing the process so there will be quite a few opportunities to put a plan in place to suit you. Wishing you both all the best, take care Mel 😊

  4. Hello,

    I had corrective jaw surgery about 5 years ago to fix a minor underbite. Not sure if I am being paranoid but recently I feel as if my bottom teeth are moving forward. I do have screws and plates in from surgery and I wonder if my underbite could come back. Is this possible?

    • Sarah, while the human body loves to regress back to its natural state, I don’t think it is possible in this case due to the plates put in during surgery. However, if you think your bottom teeth are tilting forward, I encourage you to ask your orthodontist about that. If you think your bottom jaw is moving forward (or still growing), it won’t hurt to call your surgeon’s office and ask if anyone else has experienced that before. I hope you’re able to figure this out! 😊

  5. I am a little over 3 and half weeks post op double jaw surgery I was kinda curious if anyone has felt tightness upper face ? Also not sure if it’s the splint but I talk funny and feel like my upper teeth are a little too forward and lower teeth too in ? Think I’m prob being a worry wart has anyone experienced any of this !?

    • I got a notification that I got a reply but don’t see me ?🙆🏼

    • Alexandra, what you’re describing is actually very normal and expected, so you have nothing to worry about at this point. The tightness you feel is due to swelling. Even though the surgery did not touch the upper parts of your face, our bodies respond with such extreme swelling that it often extends right up to our eye sockets. This should subside over the coming weeks.

      The splint and swelling are also the reason you’re having difficulty speaking clearly. Again, once your splint is removed and your swelling decreases, you should be able to communicate much more clearly.

      Regarding your upper teeth feeling too far forward, I also felt this way at first. I think this is because we are used to seeing our bottom jaw protruding when we look in the mirror, so now that it is not, we feel like our upper teeth are too prominent. This is just a perception thing and you should adjust to your new appearance over the next few months. Try your best not to pass judgement on your appearance until at least 3 months have passed because swelling can distort your face and make it look quite disproportionate and lopsided. Once your swelling is completely gone, your face should look much more proportional.

      Overall, you have nothing to worry about and all of these frustrations should go away as you continue to heal. Stay strong! 😊

  6. Hi guys,
    My name is Meg and i am 13. I have an underbite and will be recieving a letter in september from a lindon hospital giving me a date for an oppointment where they will discuss my underbite.i am really scared for the appointment and even more scared for the operation. My underbite does affect me like giving me a lisp and other things. I also am the only one in my family that has an underbite and cant talk to anyone about it. I am really nervous and just would like to know stuff about it.

    • Hi Meg, I had surgery to correct my underbite 3 months ago today – it was so worth it. Functionally its getting better every day but from a confidence perspective my lisp has pretty much gone and I have had compliments on my appearance. I have had braces on for 2.5 years and its likely you will have a few years of growing yet until you have surgery so try not to worry as you will be fine and it will gradually build up to it. Graham’s blog is very good at explaining the process. I only needed my top jaws moving (2 days in hosp then 5 wks recovery before I returned to work). Wishing you all the best. Don’t worry, you will be fine Mel 🙂

  7. Hey I don’t know anyone else who has had jaw surgery so I thought I would come here to ask my question. I had double jaw surgery just over 3 years ago and everything has been fine except for the past year or two, whenever I am at the dentist office laying in the chair, doing crunches in a workout or have my head tilted in any way for longer than a few minutes, the part of my face where the plates and screws are starts throbbing and causes extreme discomfort and can not be relieved until I stand up. Does anyone else get this? I’ m not even sure if its from the surgery but the pain is in the same place they operated. I’m also debating about calling my surgeon, but i’m not sure if they can do anything about it at this point. Thanks!

    • Lauren, that’s unfortunate to hear. I haven’t heard anyone else mention having this sort of experience when tilting their head Personally, I sometimes feel weird sensations in areas of my face that have screws, but they’re never painful or throbbing. Unless someone else can relate and leaves a comment, your best bet may be to call your surgeon’s office to ask if they’ve heard of this before. 😊

      (You can also try asking in the chat group as you may experience more luck there)

  8. I have two questions. #1 Is it realistic to think I will be able to return to work after two weeks? & #2 What do you do about pain after surgery? Do they give you liquid meds?

    • Hi Kimberly!

      1) I would recommend taking at least 3 weeks away from work. If you’re required to speak with customers or coworkers throughout the day, it’s safer to take a full month away. Swelling and lack of energy are quite debilitating during the first month. Perhaps you can request 3 weeks off and then decide if you’re up to returning as that date approaches.

      2) Your surgeon should prescribe appropriate pain medication for you, so whoever collects you from the hospital can have these prescriptions filled for you. Usually they’ll provide either liquid or pills that can be crushed and mixed with water or juice. I don’t think gel capsules are given because you will likely have really tight elastics holding your teeth closed at first.

      Kudos to you for doing some research before the operation. These things are much easier to figure out before surgery. 😊

  9. Hi I’m 14 and I have an underbite. My orthodontist has been doing really good trying to fix it but it came back forward after it was fixed. There’s been talk about jaw surgery in my future and I’m really scared to get it due to my cousin going through it and now she looks totally different. I read the article many times and I just want to know… Those three months in the hospital is it bad. Like what happens just so I’m prepared

    • Hi Andrea, I had surgery to correct my underbite 2 months ago. My brother and sister have also had surgery to correct theirs. My brothers underbite was quite severe and he did look different afterwards but it also took about a year in his case for all the swelling to go completely. He looks fantastic now. Even with double jaw he was only in hosp 2-3 days then back at college after about 4 weeks. My sister and I had upper jaw only. She didn’t look any different as it was only a slight underbite. Mine was moved 7.5mm forward and people can tell but in a subtle way. The hospital part is fine. You are on pain medication and won’t hurt. Its more that you need to adjust to not eating solid food for a few weeks and talking isn’t easy. You may get nosebleeds for a week or so but again its fine. Don’t worry about it or be put off as its so worth it if you need it 🙂 All the best, Mel

  10. Hello, I just had double jaw surgery, plus jaw joint surgery. They brought my top jaw down, and my bottom jaw forward. And I was just wondering what this tape is for on my upper lip. Are they stretching my upper lip so that my mouth will close? Since they brought my upper jaw down some? Or is it just a splint for the insicion underneath my top lip?

    • Emily, I don’t think I had the tape you’re referring to, but I would guess it’s to protect one of the incisions and keep it clean. Perhaps someone else here will have some more insight, though! 😊

      • Thank you for the reply. I took it off three days after, and I’m pretty sure it was meant to help prevent my top lip going up when I smile, so it wouldn’t pull on my stitches. I learned the hard way. 😂 Once I took it off, and I would laugh, or smile.. My stithces on the inside of my top lip, kept getting tugged on, which stung a bit. But, everything is healing great! So, I’m happy about that. And the difference in my jaw is amazing.

  11. Hi
    I’m three months post bi maxillary osteotomy and my lips do not meet in the middle. I am experiencing difficulty getting full functionality with my lips and definitely don’t have the range of movement I had pre surgery. I can’t even press both lis together. Has anyone else had this problemishes and if so how long is it likely to stay this way?

    Thanks
    Amanda

    • Amanda, if your upper lip feels tight, I recommend whistling several times each day for the next couple weeks to see if that restores some movement. Scar tissue can limit movement and whistling can help break this up.

      I would definitely ask your surgeon about this as well. You are not the first person who wasn’t able to close their lips completely at the 3-month mark, but it’s valuable to hear your surgeon’s professional opinion. It’s possible this is simply related to swelling and scar tissue and it’s also possible you may need to practice certain exercises to retrain some of the muscles in your face.

      Hope this helps! 😊

      • Hi, thanks for your response. I went to see the surgeon and he didn’t seem concerned about my lips not meeting, the scar tissue is still very painful and the swelling is still quite visable. He seems to think it will all calm down over the next 12 months, in the mean time I’m carrying on with the exercises. … Although I can’t whistle with my braces I keep trying 🙂

        • Good work asking your surgeon for their opinion — I hope it provides some peace of mind for you. Scar tissue is a weird thing… we cannot see it when we look in the mirror, yet it can distort and pull on our facial features in a very noticeable way. Wishing you all the best as you battle through this final step!

  12. Alicia Glover

    July 21, 2016 at 3:10 am

    Does anyone suffer from acne post surgery. I’ve always had really clear skin, but I’m breaking out like crazy!!!!

    • Could it be to do with all the medication and painkillers maybe? It might also be your body’s way of coping with the stress of the surgery? just throwing some ideas out there.

    • Hello Alicia I’m almost 8 months post op and I also broke out like crazy and I still have the pimple type rash on my face… My surgeon does not know why and my dermatologist has had me in different creams and is still not working 😩 Hopefully yours won’t last as long mine has 😕 Good luck on your recovery you 😊 Take care

  13. Im 3 weeks post op today….YAYYY! I was wondering when were you completely off of all meds? I would like to return to work full time, but im having a hard time making it through the day with no meds and tylenol isnt working.

    • Alicia, glad to hear you’re surviving! I recall finishing my medications within the first month, but I was still quite low on energy and was certainly not comfortable throughout the day. Surgeons usually won’t prescribe extra medication for pain or headaches and will point you in the direction of brands like Tylenol and Advil, but it never hurts to ask. I recommend calling your surgeon’s office to explain how you’re feeling and see if they can offer anything so you can return to work. I hope you’re feeling better soon. Remember, you’ll feel better with each passing week! 😊

  14. Hi Graham! I’ve already gotten my double jaw surgery and it’s been over a month or so since the surgery but when I open my mouth, it feels like my jaw is popping. It doesn’t hurt or anything but I’m worried that it might be something that is bad. Is this normal or should I go back to my doctor to see what’s wrong?

    • Lauren, feeling your jaw pop is actually quite normal and is usually due to swelling putting unnatural pressure on different parts of your jaw. That being said, I would definitely ask your surgeon about this at your next appointment so they are properly informed about what you’re experiencing. It’s likely nothing to worry about, though! 😊

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