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 connect with other jaw heroes?

Recovering from jaw surgery can be lonely. That's why many of us hang out in a Facebook group where we support each other leading up to surgery and during recovery. There are hundreds of people from all over the world chatting right now and it's free to join.

Join the Facebook group

(example of a recent conversation)

21 Comments

  1. Hi, I just had double jaw surgery 2 weeks ago and I cant speak properly, my speech is not understandable, when I speak it sounds like i got a cold or blocked nose also when i drink something, sometimes it comes out of my nose. I was born with cleft palate i never had speech problem, now im experiencing this and im really scared. someone please help me with this.

  2. Hi, I just had double jaw surgery a 3 days ago and today I went home and as soon as I got home a couple of minutes later I got hearing problem, can someone tell me this is normal or was there damage to my ears, some say that because your jaw joints are swollen and since their close to your ears that, that is the reason why hearing problems happen, my question is is this normal? Because my 2 on the hospital I didn’t have no hearing problems as it feels they need to be popped.

  3. Hey AIDEN how are u feeling now? Is UR nose stuffed because of blood? Also how is the swelling and what have u been eating so far?

  4. Aidan Stanley

    June 24, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Hey Donna thanks for the wishes. I’ve been asleep for quite a while now, but thanks to some meds most of the pain has gone away. The current good knews is that I will be leaving the hospital today and do not need to spend an additional night there. The bad knews is that I really can’t breath out my nose right now, the nasal spray helps but it’s still hard to get any air through my nose. As for the swelling, the doctors and nurses say that I look far better then expected, which they tell me is in part due to keeping my face iced constantly.
    I am looking forward to going home in a few hours and taking a shower where I can try to clear out my nose with some hot steam. But overall, things are going far better then I originally thought they would have gone.
    I want to say thanks again for your kind words and to try not to feel too nervous. In my opinion, keeping a positive attitude going into the surgery is very important, and I will continue to update you on my recovery the best I can.
    -Aidan

  5. Hey aiden, I hope u get well soon! How do u feel? I will be getting my surgery september 22nd for my class 3 occlusion for my upper and lower jaw. I’m so nervous! Please update me on how UR recovery goes!

  6. Aidan again, I’m currently super swollen and in a decent amount of pain. The surgery was a success and took around 6 and a half hours. I am currently on a clear liquid diet as well. Will update again later, I’m on California time.

  7. Aidan Stanley

    June 23, 2015 at 7:20 am

    Hello I’m Aidan, like many of us I will be undergoing jaw surgery. As I type this I am currently in the hospital just an hour away from getting my class 3 occlusion fixed(upper and lower surgery). I just found this website and will be sharing some of my own experiences in the coming days/weeks.

  8. Hi. i am having Underbite problem from years. now i want it to get fixed. but i want to ask a question. i have problem in speaking. my voice is abnormal. it look like i am Mumbling. i can’t pronounce different words. i can’t pronounce “N” voice. when i do so, it look like i am pronouncing “L” voice. and same case with the word “M”. the voice of the word “M” results in “B”. i want to ask that, will surgery fix this problem?

  9. I am looking to get jaw surgery due to breathing issues. How long will it take for me to be able to talk again?

  10. I recently had upper and lower surgery to fix my underbite on April 21st and man the first week was mentally stressful. I’m going on my third week and have been living off mashed potatoes, watered down baked beans, grinded down corn and very small pieces of over cooked pasta. I’m so ready to eat solid foods

  11. Hi, I’m due to have my double jaw surgery on the 19th May. I’ve waited almost 8 years so to say I’m excited is an understatement. My main concern is when will I be fit enough to return to work, however I am very lucky and work have no problem with me having time off. I’m an insurance consultant and my job is to talk on the phone for 7 hours a day. I don’t want to rush back, but just wondering how many weeks I will need off roughly?

  12. So good to read other people’s stories that are relatable! I’m 22 and currently 3 weeks post op after having my top jaw moved forward and have experienced so many highs and lows the last few weeks that I never expected. For me the first few days were fine I thought to myself this is so much easier then I read about but reality soon hit. I was lucky enough to not swell hardly at all expect Slightly around my mid face from day 3-10 . What I didn’t expect the most was the ear pain! I didn’t read many other people having this problem mine was horrible no pain meds would help and it would last hours. I couldn’t even touch my Tragus it was so painful. I found heat packs would help me get to sleep but it certainly didn’t take the pain away. This ear pain was on and off the worst at night up until 2 weeks where it become bearable and only in one ear occasionally. The next hurdle for me was the jaw spasms WOW this is without a doubt the worst part of the recovery in my second week they became so bad and so frequent I couldn’t sleep as soon as I would fall asleep it would set them off my partner and myself would wake up to me screaming it was horrible I was literally living in fear to close my eyes. After 5 days of horrible spasms that would leave me hysterical that was only for a minute or two but I was almost unable to breathe they were so painful my mum decided to call the surgeon she knows I have a high pain tolerance but knew something wasn’t right and took me to go in and see him straight away. The surgeon said I had built up so much tension in my jaw by clenching my teeth that it was causing these spasms so badly (I didn’t even realize I was clenching till he pointed it out as I was so afraid it would set them off if I relaxed my jaw) he slowly stretched out my jaw and It felt so much better instantly! He said I had to relax and start opening my mouth more and not to be afraid of the spasms. It’s now 4 days later and I’ve only experience 1 or 2 compared to about 8 a day! I’ve been eating soft foods since week 2 but it defnetly can be frustrating at times I couldn’t imagine the liquid diet for longer. I have defnetly learnt to be patient there has been a lot of tears the last few weeks and it is defnetly just as mentally challenging as physically!

  13. Wow, what a gift Graham has given all of us who are considering going through or have had jaw surgery. Thank you Graham! I spent several hours reading these entries last night and I was very moved by the experiences that everyone has shared.

    I had my first jaw surgery at age 21 after being shot in the mouth when I was 12 years old. My surgery was to correct an open bite and I had a Lefort I (upper surgery only). I remember the surgery and recovery being a piece of cake, but it didn’t completely correct my open bite.

    Over the years I have experienced regression of the open bite, so at age 44, I underwent upper and lower jaw surgery (a Lefort I and a sagittal split). My upper jaw was sectioned into 3 pieces, and my lower jaw was split and allowed to swing forward so that my mouth would close fully.

    My surgery was Dec 10 2014. As far as pain at the surgical areas and healing, my recovery has progressed pretty well, and I attribute that to following all my doctors recommendations and being well-informed and well-prepared.

    But this recovery has been much more difficult than my first surgery. I don’t know if it is that I am older or because it was upper and lower this time around. The numbness, pain, and tingling in my lips and chin has been unbearable at times, and still is at nearly 6 months post op.

    Even though I have much of my feeling and movement back in my lips and face, my upper lip is still quite numb and feels like I have gotten the juice of a hot pepper on it nearly constantly. If it is cold or windy out, the pain and tightness that I experience for the rest of the day is terrible.

    My nose has not stopped running since the surgery and it itches, tickles, and feels cold constantly. And I have lost my sense of smell. It comes and goes at times but there are some important things that I cannot smell period (smoke and spoiled meat for example). My surgeon seems to think that this is all fine, though he doesn’t know about losing smell yet. I have brought up the nerve problems several times and I have been told to pull and stretch my lip.

    And even though my teeth interdigitate perfectly, my upper and lower jaws are several millimeters off midline now. The shape of my face has changed in ways that I am not happy with, both in bone structure and soft tissue. Because of my nerve damage to my upper lip, my facial expression appears tight and pinched. I look much older. People don’t recognize me.

    I had my surgery for functional and cosmetic reasons. In many ways so far, I have less pain and discomfort in my jaw joints and I can close my mouth all the way…so functionally I have had some good improvements. But I would not go through this again- for me the cons outweigh the pros with the outcome.

    I know many people who had surgery with my same surgeon who are quite happy with their outcomes and have had few problems. I don’t mean to frighten anyone with my story, but I think that if you are considering having surgery, you should know that the possible complications are very real, and the risks need to be weighed carefully.

    I would love to hear from anyone who is more than 6 months post op and has had nerve problems and to know what your experience has been. Best to all.

    • Brienna Thompson

      October 7, 2019 at 8:35 pm

      Hello there. This is long but bear with me. This surgery is serious and has a lot of possible complications many of which they do not talk to you about:
      I am almost 3 months post op from double jaw surgery and a genioplasty. I have permanent nerve damage to my upper lip that has created a “frozen lip.” I can no longer smile correctly and when I try it looks unnatural and the pain next to my nose and in my cheeks is nearly unbearable. My lips are not able to touch without significant strain in the top and bottom lips. When resting a lot of my teeth show and I struggle to force my lips closed. No one recognizes me and when my face gets tired from talking all day (I’m a therapist) I look like I have had a stroke with left sided facial droop. I still cannot pronounce “B”, “M”, “N”, “S”, or “Th” very well. I was given speech therapy to try and train my new face and deficits to be able to shape those letters correctly.

      The surgery did not correct my malocclusion or my midline shift and actually created a worse bite problem than I started with before surgery. I am still numb in both lips, my chin, and my cheeks but I am being told that is to be expected for a few more months. Additionally, I also had sutures come out of the front of my face instead of dissolving within the tissue.

      The amount of pain I had with this surgery and am still experiencing is unreal. Focusing is difficult because of the pain I am having next to my nose, in my teeth, the nerves waking up and my ears. I have a ring in in my ears that began around 10 weeks and has progressively gotten so loud that it sometimes makes me nauseated.

      I have yet to be able to go back to Ironworker functioning at almost 3 months. I’m grateful I sit for work rather than doing something more physical because I exhaust easily and pain increases with very little effort. If I am leaning my face down for too long, swelling increases and so does the pain. I cannot run or do yoga yet. Some walking is agreeable, but I exhaust easily.

      I still cannot eat hard foods. I am still on soft foods due to the pain. I tried fried chicken the other day and cried because 1. I couldn’t open my mouth wide enough, and 2. The browsing was too hard to chew. The surgeons said it is most likely due to my teeth and insides of my cheeks being numb. Eating use to be something I loved and now I get anxious anytime I have to eat because of the pain and difficulty. I cannot chew properly because of the frozen lip and my lips not being able to touch so food falls out of my mouth and I cannot chew with my mouth closed (my lips don’t reach).

      The only benefit from this surgery is that I can truly breathe better which was the main reason for the surgery in the first place for me. None of the other issues (bite, malocclusion, lips being able to touch, ligament strain, weak chin) were corrected properly.

      Good luck.

  14. Justin-

    I hope you’ve been eating something! Talk to your doctor about an appropriate diet.

    What is important is to get nutrition, enough calories, and hydration. 0-3 weeks after surgery on liquid diet I used to drink 2 Ensure Plus a day, an enriched water (vitamins and minerals), chicken broth, and smoothies made of blended fresh and frozen fruit, yogurt, whey protein, and juice or vanilla soy milk. I used an animal feeding syringe with a soft silicon tip that I bought on Amazon to eat.

    If you are on liquid diet you don’t want a bunch of solid stuff that can get stuck on any hardware they have in your mouth if you can’t open well to clean and you don’t want to mess around too much with trying to clean near any incisions. So make sure everything is well blended until you are cleared for a soft diet.

    When I could have a soft diet (about 3-4 weeks post surgery), I ate a lot of stuff that didn’t require chewing even though I was allowed to gently chew. Macaroni and cheese or other small pasta, mashed potatoes (or mashed cauliflower or broccoli), soup with tender vegetables that could be swallowed easily if I couldn’t chew, eggs, lipton noodle soup, spaghetti and meat sauce. At the end of the fourth week I found that I could eat almost anything I wanted that could be cut up into teeny tiny pieces – even broccoli beef or chicken. Avoid crunchy stuff – raw vegetables, crunchy peanut butter, harder breads, cookies, chips, etc. Good luck!

  15. Hi! I just recently had jaw surgery on my bottom right side. It doesn’t hurt it’s just numb. I have this terrible taste in my mouth. I didn’t have wires I had a plate put in. I’m in a head wrap that I take off today. I’m really hungry , but I don’t have any ideas on food.. can you help? How long is full recovery? Will my numbness go away? When can I eat? I weighed 218lbs before surgery and just after a week of broken jaw I weighed 200. Please help me.

  16. Diana: I also had double jaw surgery, on the 19 of December. It’s kind of normal to feel like that at first but try to eat as much as you can. Eat something that you know you crave. Due to the medications, you may get nausea from them which I guess makes you feel like that. There were times in the first week when I felt sick and that I wanted to throw up but I never did.

  17. okay so i have a question. i just got a double jaw surgery on wednesday. im trying to eat as much as i can but i just feel like im going to throw everything up. my stomach is growling but i cant eat… is this normal?

  18. Hi,

    This is Madhu from India. I had a lower jaw corrective surgery before 18 days. Now I started eating and Now I can able to open around 50% of my mouth and started eating slowly. My dentist asked me to do stretch exercise using hands and my chin and lower lip sensitivity is very very low which is troubling me while eating

    How long it will take before I get full sensitivity and also if you have any suggestion on the food and exercise please let me know

    Thanks
    N.Madhu

  19. Graham- this blog has been such a great resource for me throughout my entire 2+ year long jaw surgery journey and you just seem like the sweetest person as well. Thank you so much for everything you’ve put into it!

    I’d write my own experiences and tips on a blog somewhere but I thought it would be easier for future jaw surgery patients if I just added a comment here. I had my double jaw surgery in early Dec, upper jaw moved forward 4mm and lowered 1 mm, and lower jaw moved back 3mm.

    My 2 cents:

    Post- Surgery Recovery: Mine was quite terrible, I threw up a huge amount of blood the night following surgery and the day after and it was the most disgusting thing imaginable. I got very emotional thinking I was an idiot to do this for (mostly but not all) vain reasons. But after day 2-3 I got used to it and the days just flew by after that. So if anyone is feeling the same way, it’s very normal and it does get better.

    Food: I find the thought of blending meat to be a bit disgusting (plus little bits of meat would no doubt get into my teeth as I don’t have a heavy duty blender) so I went mostly vegetarian for my recovery diet, aside from the occasional meat broth.
    The following foods were a lifesaver:
    -Egg drop soup (excellent source of protein, a lot of salt though unless you make it yourself)
    -Pho (just the broth and the noodles blended together as a lot of the beef tendons are rubbery and unblendable)
    -Vegetarian Indian curries like Channa Masala/ chickpea curry or dal(I’d add water and blend them into soups and they were amazing and not gross at all)

  20. Hello! I’m a 17 year old male. I’m on my 6th day of post op and I had my surgery done to correct an underbite I had. They doctors moved my upper jaw forward and my bottom jaw back. My upper jaw wasn’t wide enough as well so they had to widen it too. Luckily, Everything went well and honestly, I haven’t felt any pain at all. I stopped taking ibuprofen on the 4th day. I can open my mouth to eat with a spoon, so this had made it ALOT easier than having to use a syringe! I’m still moderately swollen but it should go down in the coming weeks, I look like a cute chimpmunk. Most of the numbness had gone away,in fact, the only area that feels a little bit funny is my lips and the chin, other than that I can feel everything 100%. The liquid diet sucks though. However, my banana and strawberry smoothies have been hitting the spot. The worst part right now is just having that freaking splint in my mouth! It doesn’t let me talk well and it’s just annoying, and also the rubber bands. Luckily, its only two I have to to put on. I just can’t wait until everything is gone and I can eat pizza and hamburgers, and chicken!!

Leave a Reply to Kayleigh Cancel reply

“Over the past several years, I’ve done my best to respond to every comment on this blog, but unfortunately I no longer have the time to do so. If you have questions about jaw surgery and want to connect with others on this journey, please join the Facebook group. Don't worry — it's free!”

*