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)

1200 Comments

  1. Hey I’m 18 y/o from Israel and I’m predicted to have this surgery on both my jaws. I read you say it takes about 3 months for the swelling to be completely gone, however my surgeon and other patients who’ve gone through the surgery with my surgeon said it had taken them 2 weeks to a month till the swelling disappeared, does it make sense? Also I was wondering, how long will have to stay with braces on op-operation?
    Thank you so much for your help.

    • Hi Lior, if you only have a single jaw operated on, you will heal much more quickly than if you have both jaws altered. That being said, I still would not expect swelling to be gone within a month. It’s possible a fair bit of your swelling may dissipate by that point, though.

      As for braces, most orthodontists recommend wearing them for 6–12 months following jaw surgery. 😊

  2. Chelsea Prince

    March 31, 2016 at 6:59 am

    Hey Graham Swan and all my friends who are or have sailed on the same boat as I have. I just got my orthognathic surgery done last week and I must say your website is helping me get through it day by day. I just had one doubt.. HOW DO I GET RID OF THE SWELLING FASTER?? Plus I’m getting my splint removed on my next appointment. I’m so scared .. will it hurt??

    • Hi Chelsea, welcome to recovery! It’s normal for your swelling to continue increasing based on how much you’re talking or eating, so this is nothing to worry about. You can try resting with a heat pack on your face throughout the day to reduce the swelling a bit. And that bad breath… unfortunately, that’s also normal.

      Having your splint removed should not cause you any pain. In fact, it should be a relief and you should be able to solve the bad breath problem once the splint is gone. 😄

    • Hey everyone. I am on the road to getting a double jaw surgery and I spoke with my doctor today. I am 23 years old and he said there is a 20% chance I will have permanent nerve damage in part of my lip and chin. I am worried. What % has your doctors told you/how old are you. I hear the precent goes up with age? Also, does anyone have permanent nerve damage, if so how is it? Is it worth the risk?

      • Hi Theresa, my surgeon told me there was a 30% chance of permanent nerve damage. I do have a permanent loss of feeling in approximately half of my lower lip and chin, but it does not negatively affect my life. The only times I notice it is when I’m shaving or when people ask about it. This risk did not keep me from having surgery because I felt the benefits of the operation would outweigh potential numbness.

      • Hello Teresa, i had double jaw surgery in December and im also 23. I was told there was a possibility i would have nerve damage (they have to say just to cover their backs!!) . I did have nerve damage on one side of my chin and lip but everyday its getting better and it should recover in a couple of months. At the moment it doesn’t bother be at all and know one recognises it so they dont know. If i did have permanent nerve damage it will be so worth it! Cara

  3. Chelsea Prince

    March 31, 2016 at 6:51 am

    Hey, I’m Chelsea Prince, 19 , from Mumbai, India. I got my double jaw orthognathic surgery done like a week back. I don’t regret it but I’m scared because my cheeks are getting more and more swollen. I mean in the morning its more than that in the evening.
    Besides that, Bad breath ahhhh it’s killing me 🙁
    I hope it’s all worth it in the end.
    I;m getting my splint removed next week. Does removing the splint hurt at all? I’m so scared 🙁

  4. I had bottom and top jaw surgery done , however I can’t close my lips still and suffer from mentalis strain.
    How can I correct this would I need to have another surgery ?

    • Louise, how long ago did you have the surgery? Intense swelling can cause your lips to remain open, so if you haven’t hit the 3-month mark yet, I’d try to remain hopeful.

      • It’s been 6 months and I no longer have braces

        • At 6 months post-op, you should be fully recovered with no swelling left. I think the best course of action would be to visit your surgeon and ask for their professional opinion on why you’re unable to close your lips at this point.

        • Hi Louise! What has happened since your post? I really hope that your situation has gotten better. I’m having the same issue after my double jaw surgery. My surgeon tells me not to worry, but I can’t help it — it’s really uncomfortable!

  5. Hi 47th day post of really eating anything and everything!
    i have been asked to put the rubber bands but some days i miss it hope its okay! and those who had their operation done in recent days don’t worry what you are going through is temporary hardly 30+ days and you’ll feel really good to see a mirror or pose for a photo!
    and if u are a girl you’ll start enjoying the selfies! trust me on this one your looks will make you feel better! just hang in there for few days and everything will be awesome!! Good luck guys hope you all will look way better than you used to!

    • James, really appreciate you sharing some encouragement with the community here. A lot of people feel quite distraught regarding their appearance in the first few months after surgery, so it’s nice to hear from someone who is finding the patience to see it through. Take care and stay positive! 😊

    • I’m happy to hear you are recovering well, James. I’m at 8 weeks and still very unhappy with my appearance. I saw a photo of myself the other day and was horrified. No selfies for this girl in the foreseeable future.

      • Im six weeks today and I’m the still so unhappy. I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel at thats so hard. Trying to stay positive but I hate how I look and can’t see it changing. I still have so much regret. This surgery is not always positive results. I think people need to be prepared that they might not look better or they might not be happy. I may have better smile but thats no good when you hate the rest of your face.

        • Of course there is no way of knowing if you are going to be happy with the results and most people are happy with the outcome which is why i decided to go for it so I’m praying everyday that I get used to it or better

        • I feel the same way. Granted I am only about 13 days post op, but I’m not a fan of the change. I originally had an underbite, class III malocclusion. My surgeon has said he was going to do double jaw surgery for the longest time and then just a day before says there is no need for my upper jaw to be moved I only needed lower jaw surgery. Now after the surgery, I believe my mid face is way too flat and my upper jaw should’ve been moved forward to compensate for the lower being pushed about 6.5 mm back. My surgeon claimed this was the better aesthetic option but now I hate my side profile more than I did before! I’m really hoping that after 3 months my fave will be better but as of now I have major regrets about this surgery. I don’t know why my surgeon just didn’t work on my upper jaw. He claimed I didn’t need it. But now for aesthetic reasons I believe I did. I feel like the lower part of my face is so square and my midface is flat. I have become so distressed about this I’m losing sleep because I believe I ruined my face. I was bothered by my underbite before but at least I looked pretty/normal. Now I feel like I look a tad weird/unproportional.

  6. Hey-My name’s Rosie 🙂
    I’m due to get surgery for my overbite sometime next year-I don’t currently have braces (will be getting them next year), but i was wondering how long it usually takes to put in braces before having the surgery, as well as after?
    Also, will the recovery period impact work/other commitments for a while? And how long would you recommend waiting to go back to work/uni post-surgery?
    Thanks for the help!

    • Hia Rosie,
      I had my braces on 2 years before my operation and had my operation December 2015. Ive had a appointment to have my braces off in May 2016. My orthadontist did say you usually get them off 6 months after the operation. I was signed off work for 4 weeks first but i felt fine so went back to work as a primary school teacher. Had to say it was hard and was getting tired very easily. I would go back when you feel ready to. What is your work? Cara

      • Hey Cera!
        Wow 2 years is a lot! But 6months post surgery sounds about good (and by other comments, totally worth it!) it’s only a simple job cashiering at a small shop, lifting stuff, do you think this will impact much post surgery?
        Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate it! 🙂
        From Rosie

        • Yes but i did have to have 4 teeths out so had loads of gaps!! Yes totally worth it. No i wouldnt think it would as long as you be careful. Your welcome? Are you from the usa or uk? Cara

          • After reading some of the comments im slightly nervous my appearance will change heaps following surgery-Does it eventually go back to normal? And how long usually would this take?
            And i’m from neither haha 🙂
            -Rosie

          • You will be fine. Mine hasnt changed at all so maybe someone else could answer that one! Haha just thought everyone is from usa!!!

  7. Thanks for this blog – it’s what I always came to while I was recovering for moral support. I’m lucky because I’ve recovered pretty quickly with no complications at all.. I didn’t even have to have elastics in!

    I’m about four months post op from double jaw surgery and genioplasty, and I really want to go to a fair this week: that includes going on rides. Is it a bad idea to go on anything at this point?

    • Dana, happy to hear you had a swift recovery. At 4 months post-op, you should be perfectly fine going on rides at the fair. Your bone should be completely healed by now. 🎢

  8. can i have double jaw i have a bronvhitis

  9. Hi,
    (not so serious post)
    I was wondering if you guys, who are going through the same sh*t i am, have idea’s for tattoo’s. I want one after my surgery and it has to remind me of what i’ve been through. (Ugliness, pain, etc.) If you have any inspiration, please let me know!

    Kind regards,
    Danilo

    • Danilo, I can’t think of any tattoo ideas (despite actually having tattoos myself), but this is an interesting question!

      Any creative people in the audience? 😄

    • I thought about getting one too. My only ideas were an anchor that could symbolize strength or possibly a bible verse about courage or bravery.

  10. Hi I’m in now my 6th week of post op and my jaw is healing faster then expected and I no longer need bands of any kind and I have been doing therapy where I stick popsicle sticks in my mouth to slowly stretch my jaw movement(up to 9) and I was wondering should I start chewing pasta and greens now or should I wait another few weeks because I start seeing my braces doctor on april 14 ( can you suggest the number of weeks to wait?) and I don’t go back to the post op doctor until I get the braces off.

    • Hi Elaine, I recommend asking your surgeon when they deem it safe to start eating things like pasta and greens again. They will have the best idea of how strong the underlying bones in your jaw are. Personally, I started eating soft foods again during my 7th week of recovery.

  11. Hi I was wondering how long the pain lasts? I just went to the ortho and got put on some super tight elastics, tighter than the surgeon had given me, which is causing immense pain.. I am two weeks post surgery.

    • Hi Annie, it’s common to experience a bit of pain each time you have your elastics changed or braces tightened. This pain usually only lasts for 3–4 days, at which point your teeth and muscles adjust to the new setup. 😊

  12. Hi
    Is free anyone whose upper jaw is moved down for vertical dimension or to show teeth while smiling. I met one of the oral surgeon who is not agreed to move my upper jaw down, he believes it will relapse back to its previous position.
    I really wish to correct my facial disfiguring. It seems I am arrogant person because I don’t smile
    Can somebody pls help!!!!
    Thanks 🙂

    • Hello, dont really understand what your question is? But i had double jaw surgery 3 months ago. They broke the bottom and brought it forward 7mm and lifted my top jaw up 3mm as i was showing to much teeth and gum.

  13. Hi my names James and I’m getting an underbite jaw surgery next June.
    I’m a martial artist so I’m wondering whether it’ll be a year to a year and a half till I’ll be able to take a hit in the face or if I’ll ever be able to do it again – any information would be helpful thanks.

    • Hi james, the bone in the jaw will heal in about 8 weeks like most bones. You will be able to go full contact after that although you may not feel like it. I’m 9 weeks post op and really wouldn’t like to get hit in the face due to the swelling that I still have although I know at this point the actual jaw bone is technically healed. It will all depend on how much swelling you have which obviously changes person to person, but you will be able to go back to it at some point. Hope this helps.

      • That helps me out a lot thank you – just to know I’ll be able to get back to it eventually is a massive boost so thank you.

    • Hi James, I had my surgery back in Dec 2015 and I am Deputy Sheriff and the Doctor from the Sheriff’s office only cleared me after 3 months indicating that bone healing should be pretty much done by then. She said that although 8 weeks is average/normal for bone healing in most people, it is still risky for people that are faced with events that can lead to hit/blows to the face like in Law Enforcement. She was leaning into 6 months recommendation but the 3 months she said was safe. Not sure if this will help but that is my take. Good Luck

  14. I really appreciate this blog. I am 3 weeks post double jaw and genioplasty. For me the swelling is the greatest dissapointment. At a time when you are meeting your new self for the first time but your not sure if that face is what your stuck with . Scary stuff.

    • Hi Dee, Im 3 weeks post too and I feel the exact same. Its scary. I have been told to be patient and not judge how I look until at least 6 weeks but it is so hard not to judge, I feel its not going to change much but I hope I’m wrong. Im tying not to look in the mirror so much and keep my mind off it and trying to stay positive. good luck

  15. Hi me again I tried the soup and now it feels like the back of my mouth is clogged up I tried brushing and rinsing multiply times but it stays what an I do? Also my wire(the loop o what I think are wires) seem loose as well should I call the doctors and book and appointment as early as possible or should I wait till my next scheduled appointment on March 10th?

    • Elaine, if it feels like your braces (or splint, if you have one) are moving around due to a loose wire, you may want to call your surgeon’s office simply to ask if that is something to be concerned about.

      As for feeling like food is stuck in the back of your mouth, this can be a tough place to clean when you’re swollen and wired shut. Several people have mentioned using a Waterpik water flosser to successfully solve this problem. Hope this helps! 😊

  16. Hi, me again! 20 days my post op! i still have my totally tight rubber bands on!
    I’m hoping to start eating semi solid! or anything from 10 days from now! I’ feeling like am ready to bite anything now! Dying to get my hands on something tastier than powdred oats soup and other “Liquid diet”………….. my question is… will i be given a loose rubber band since i had a tight rubber band for a month! i m having my finger crossed! going to meet my surgeon 8 days from! hopefully hell give me green signal that “YOU CAN START EATING SOMETHING” dying get my hands on some solid food!

    • Hi James, congratulations on staying sane for a full 3 weeks! I don’t recall my surgeon giving me looser bands as time went on, but he did give me permission to start wearing the bands at night only after a few months. I don’t think you’re quite there yet, but it should not be long before you’re allowed to remove the bands to eat, which means you can graduate from a pure liquid diet on a soft-and-mostly-liquid diet. Hopefully your surgeon has good news for you next week!

  17. Hi graham
    Thanks a lot to ur blog so useful
    as many can share their experiences.
    we used to react as it is our own
    blog ,u may be wondering how all
    r eager to share and help one
    another.
    Anyways my question is u r a
    Software professional and
    want to know is there any software
    that can show us 3D image of
    Person s Pre and post op pics
    before surgery.when we asked
    Our surgeon he said that software
    Is very costly he can’t afford.

    • Hi Jyothi, this is a good question! I am a software engineer, but I work exclusively on web-related things, so I honestly have no idea about what’s available in the 3D imaging world beyond what a Google search would tell you.

      I know this type of software does exist, but sometimes software with very specific purposes like this have extremely high licensing fees. Further to that, if software is exclusively used for medical purposes, it’s often priced out of reach for most people.

      I did not see a rendering of my post-op appearance before I had the surgery and I’ve met very few people who had that luxury. In other words, it is perfectly normal for a surgeon not to have access to this, and if you do happen to be able to see a rendering of your post-op appearance, that is just a bonus. 😊

      • Hi, I just had double jaw surgery 5 days ago. My surgeon used 3D x-ray software to take my measurements before surgery. And he has 2D rendering software that will print out a side profile picture simulating your face after surgery. I asked him about a frontal picture but he said the technology wasn’t advanced enough yet.

  18. Hi all there, I have one home remedy
    for those worried about their nose.
    It is quite common that after surgery
    Many people s nose change.
    Some s become wide and some s
    bucked whatever one thing we can
    do is smear some oil comfortable
    for ur skin like olive, coconut
    almond etc and right from top
    (nose)to the tip give a gentle massage
    U can apply comfortable pressure.
    At the tip of ur nose pull it upwards.
    My daughter is doing and looking better.
    It is just a possibility.good luck .

  19. Hi I just came back from my 1 week post op and my next one is on March10th now I would be fine wit that date except that the did not remove my bands nor did they remove my support.( the thing they stick between your teeth I think my doctor called it a wafer/splint) what can I eat? because I cant stand not eating something filling for a whole two weeks one I could handle not two.

    • Hi Elaine, it is perfectly normal to have your bands and splint in for the first few weeks. For reference, I had my splint in for a full 7 weeks, but most people are lucky enough to have it removed by the end of the first month.

      As for what to eat, don’t be afraid to start blending meals. I know it sounds somewhat repulsive, but unless you can handle soup and smoothies for an entire month, blending up soft meals may be your only option. I found different flavors of Campbells Chunky soups to be quite satisfying when heated and then blended up. 🍜

  20. This is the 11th weeks after I had the double jaw surgery. I still only able to eat soft foot (rice, fish, mash potato etc). My mouth upper roof and my lower lip/chin are still partially numb. When I try bite down, I can see and feel my upper line of teeth move (I still have braces on). Is this common?

    • Hi Sie, by the 11-week mark, you should be able to eat most foods again. Chewy foods like steak and really hard foods like peanuts and carrots may still be off limits, but most other foods should be fair game.

      If you’re experiencing pain when chewing, I recommend calling your surgeon and asking what might be causing that at this point in the recovery.

      If you are not experiencing pain, this is likely a strength issue. I recommend exercising the muscles in your jaw by chewing gum as often as possible and whistling 4–5 times per day. These exercises should help strengthen your jaw and break up scar tissue within a couple of weeks. 😊

    • I can see my upper line of teeth moving too, I asked my surgeon about it and he said it’s completely normal in some cases in the post op. so relax and be patient, healing comes to everyone 😉

    • Hi I’ve had the same problem too!! I’m about 16weeks post op. Can I can how things worked out for you? Hope you’re recovery is going well.
      🙂

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