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)

13 Comments

  1. 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! 😊

  2. 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! 😊

  3. 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

  4. 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! 😊

  5. 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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