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 leading up to surgery and during recovery. There are over 600 people from 50 countries chatting right now and it's free to join.

(example of a recent conversation)

55 Comments

  1. sir, i want to ask if i can come and do my jaw surgery, i have a secondary growth on my left side jaw.. if i want to come how will i do it.. thanks..

  2. Graham, this blog may be nice, but I feel like it is somewhat inappropriate.

    You are not an MD; you have not been to medical school. Therefore, I feel it is unethical for you to assume a position of authority or knowledge when it comes to jaw surgery and answering questions about the surgery, many of which only a doctor would be able to adequately answer. Some of the advice you dispense here may be potentially harmful as while you have done some secondary research, you are not learned in all the intricacies of the human body, nor different factors affecting it.

    For instance- some patients of this surgery do not have extreme numbness, contrary to what your post asserts. I had virtually no numbness at all. I also have facial nerves the size of a shoelace. Such is the infinite variability of the human body. Another post of yours recommends the use of several products in the post-op period. These products may help some, but some products may be contraindicated in other cases. Leave your assertions up to the discretion of doctors.

    Yes, I understand the point of this website is to help people. This is a noble quest, however, at the very least, I believe it would be prudent to include a disclaimer in your posts that you are NOT an MD, but merely a patient sharing an opinion. Sadly, there are ignorant people who will read a blog as the ultimate authority, even over their own doctor.

    That said, I will now share my opinion as a patient. I had this surgery 3 weeks ago- Lefort I osteotomy on the upper and unilateral (yes, only one side) sagittal split on the lower. The recovery has been only slightly inconvenient. I was not banded together after surgery, and was able to open my mouth more than an inch immediately after waking up. I was discharged from the hospital the day after the procedure. At only 3 weeks post-op, I look completely normal, save for a few rubber bands. The swelling is virtually non-existent. I have had more pain than most, being as my facial nerves are very thick and were barely affected by the surgery, meaning only slight numbness after the procedure, but the pain is easily managed by mild narcotics.

    This whole procedure has been so much easier than I imagined- in fact, it was only slightly less pleasant than getting my wisdom teeth removed. Now I only look forward to eating a juicy steak in the following months.

    • Disagree. I found this blog super helpful and never once thought Graham’s advice (or anyone else’s) was a substitute for advice from my surgeon.

    • Matt, it is so obvious this blog is not written by an MD there is no need to say it just practice your reading comprehension and stop trying to save people from thinking they will suffer severe pain or if they will need to eat soup for a longer period. Invest more time in practicing your reading skills.
      This blog was helpful and very interesting, just one more personal experience!

      • I had double jaw surgery in 2014 I found this blog super helpful. If your going to have this procedure done it’s a great place to read what to expect all the way through. And lots of good humor from Graham. Stay positive and you will be back to normal in no time.

    • Matt, it’s been a while since I’ve been in here but I have some advice that might help you in the future. Doctors are normally found in hospitals not at the end of a internet search for extra advice. If you want a doctor go to a hospital. And don’t believe everything you read on the internet it’s a big scary place. Everyone else I’ve found through this forum has been very grateful to hear advice of others going through the same and of grahams excellent advice. I suggest if you don’t like something just leave don’t start an argument, no one wants to be that person.

      I notice you missed your disclaimer about not being a MD on leaving your own advice !

  3. I have some questions if someone could please answer.
    1) Is the risk of permanent numbness only in the LOWER lip and chin? If it potentially affects the rest of my face – cheeks, upper lip, eyes – then that will put me off. A numb chin won’t be too bad.
    2) In terms of appearance afterwards, from pictures of others I swear the top teeth are slightly more forward than anybody who hasn’t had jaw surgery? Does the metal stay in you forever? Do they test if you have an allergy to it first?
    3) After the surgery, will I be able to walk around soon?
    4) What happens if my jaw is shut and I get a cold with a blocked nose and I can’t breathe? How much can you open your mouth? I already have breathing difficulties to do with anxiety. I feel like I need to take deep breaths. And I know that I will be very anxious and upset after surgery, worrying about everything and not being able to eat.
    5) What happens if all the liquid of the diet makes me sick? I read that it can still trickle through, but again is there a risk of choking, or not being able to breathe?
    6) Does anybody else have tinnitus? I was wondering if it was related to my underbite, and whether jaw surgery would cure it. I don’t have any other problems – I can eat and speak fine, this is just an aesthetic problem and the fact that I’m grinding my teeth down. I had a hearing test and my hearing is fine. When I’m sleep deprived, I get aching in my sinuses, and again wonder if this could be related.
    7) When you start eating again, does it take getting used to the new teeth arrangement? Even though I have an underbite, I feel fine eating as it’s normal for me and what I’m used to.
    8) I was told my surgery will be 8 hours, and there is the risk as with any procedure that undergoes anaesthetic. I previously went under to have teeth extracted, so does this mean I’m safe from future side effects from anaesthetic as it was fine before?

    Thanks, and sorry for all the questions. I want to be 100% sure.

    • I have a question myself. I’m about 1.7 months into my recovery wife my surgery august of 2016. Is it too late to take out my hardware in my face? I just want them out eventually. I just feel it’s weird to have foreign objects in your body like that for life. Anyone got this done and what was the cost etc?

      • Hi Luke,

        My surgeon told me the hardware should ideally be taken out around 6 months after surgery because after that your bone will grow around the hardware, making it more difficult to remove. That being said, I believe it can still be done.

        Personally, if it’ s not bothering you, I feel (and was advised) to leave it as/is.

        Brooks

    • 1) gums, lips, chin are all common, other areas are uncommon. My upper gums and chin are a bit numb after 8 months, but I don’t notice it at all. It’s really not a big deal to me.
      2) It depends on how far forward/back they move your upper and lower jaws. My surgeon was critical of some surgeons that give their patients a horse-like look afterwards by moving their upper jaw too far forward. In the US, it is common to leave the hardware in place for life. In Europe, it is common to remove it after 6 months. It doesnt need to be removed unless it is bothering you.
      3) I was able to walk around the next day with help from my wife. It took me about a week to be able to take short walks on my own.
      4) Ask your surgeon. Most people are not wired shut after surgery but you should be able to breathe through your nose and/or mouth. Colds and sneezing are not fun.
      5) You probably wont be wired shut, so not a major concern. I almost vomited while wired shut, and it was very scary for me, but no one else seemed concerned.
      6) No, sorry
      7) No. You’ll just be happy to be eating 🙂
      8) I don’t believe so.

      It’s normal to be nervous about this surgery. I personally have been very happy with the results, even though I had complications, and even though my bite is still problematic. Good luck 🙂

  4. I have some questions if someone could please answer. Is the risk of numbness only in the LOWER lip and chin? If it potentially affects the rest of my face – cheeks, upper lip, eyes – then that will put me off. A numb chin won’t be too bad.

    What happens if my jaw is shut and I get a cold with a blocked nose and I can’t breathe? How much can you open your mouth? I already have breathing difficulties to do with anxiety. I feel like I need to take deep breaths. And I know that I will be very anxious and upset after surgery, worrying about everything and not being able to eat.
    What happens if all the liquid of the diet makes me sick? I read that it can still trickle through, but again is there a risk of choking, or not being able to breathe?

    Does anybody else have tinnitus? I was wondering if it was related to my underbite, and whether jaw surgery would cure it. I don’t have any other problems – I can eat and speak fine, this is just an aesthetic problem and the fact that I’m grinding my teeth down. I had a hearing test and my hearing is fine.

    When I’m sleep deprived, I get aching in my sinuses, and again wonder if this could be related. Thanks.

  5. Hi, I have had a bi Jaw surgery with mandibular setback, and maxillary advancement. It’s been 9 weeks post OP and I am able to eat and talk freely. I wanted to know if it would be okay for me to use a Vape right now. My dentist advised me not to smoke cigarettes for atleast 3 months post OP. Since I am healing fine, can I use a vaporizer right now and not wait for another 3-4 weeks for smoking?

    • Nithin,

      The nicotine from the cigarettes is out of your system by now, you are no longer addicted to cigarettes or vaping. Take this opportunity to kick the habit for good! It takes a long time for the scar tissue to break down and smoking will lengthen this and do your long term health no good as well. Hopefully the operation was successful and remember you’ve already got past the hard part.

  6. I’m day 16 post-op. Is it safe to have sex with my gf? I can’t find this answer anywhere. And one more question. When can I sleep on my side? 🙂

  7. I am having a bsso and lefort 1 this month. 6 weeks before my wedding! Dr is telling me the swelling should be gone. Should I wait??

    • Yes, wait! I just had same done and my son’s wedding is in 6 weeks. You will not be revived enough.

  8. Hey, I’m 18 years old and I’m getting surgery in 1 year. I read that the jaw still grow to get manly after 18 to 20/21. My jaw is not very wide and I was wondering if after surgery my jaw will keep growing.

  9. Can someone share great surgeon at orange county ca?

  10. Hello to all underbite surgery people,
    I have schedule to have surgery on May after my final, and I have braces now and I have cold feet now not to have surgery after I read all these long term side effect . What is my option if I change my mind and remove my braces , my underbite not that bad prior to putting braces. I am scare of long term side effect. Also, can you recover in 12 weeks since I have to go back to college. Please post your honest opinion.
    Thanks.
    Jon

    • Morning Jon, it is completely normal to be apprehensive before surgery. I had my underbite surgery in May 16 and it was worth it. I was back at work after 5 weeks, my cheeks still looked a bit swollen but only people who know you well will tell the difference. I come from a family where 3 of us have had this surgery and none of us have long term side effects. You will have things that annoy you a bit during your recovery but in my experience most pass within the first 6 months. For me it’s just occasional sinus pain and the odd twinge in my lower jaw, but it had only been 9 months so that’s probably normal. Good luck to you whatever you decide. Mel 🙂

    • I’m going on Day 12 post op, best ever life changing decision I’ve ever made. Don’t talk yourself out of it! Good Luck you can do this.

    • Hi jon, i dont recomend you yo have jaw surgery, i have one months ago and i investigate and i found that you can avoide jaw surgery with orthotropics and you will look 100 times better. Really i am angry with the doctors but i already have the surgery, please investigate in youtube, orthotropics

      • Can you suggest me one video?

      • To people reading comments for information, please don’t listen to this moron about orthotropics in lieu of oral surgery in adults, it is borderline quackery when applied to fully developed faces and completely unproven in effectiveness. I’m familiar with the main proponent of such treatment that I believe this poster is referring to. Again, no x-rays are ever produced to compare changes. It is a huge waste of time to put off the actual solution to your bite problems for the sake of a seemingly less inconvenient solution.

    • Hi Jon,

      I had a double jaw surgery in late April and I am 100% a-ok and have been for several months. My surgery didn’t turn out perfect, but it is certainly an improvement in my condition prior to surgery, and the side effects, that I have (slightly numb upper gums), are barely noticeable. The weeks after surgery are difficult, but I think for most people, they are very much worth the effort. Hope that helps.

      Brooks

  11. Good morning
    Just wondering if now after having double jaw and genioplasty will I need special paperwork for the airport to explain all the metal lol.

    • Lol, you won’t set off the metal detectors, it’s not enough metal even if it feels like it is. I’ve been through them several times and not set anything off.

  12. I had this surgery when I was 16, I’m 35 now. I had an “open bite” and both my upper & lower jaws were broken and bone was taken from the top to add to the bottom. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. Did it suck? YES. Was it worth it? Absolutely. I agree with most of this article but some of it is sugar coated.

    • Hi Megan,
      so you had it 10 years ago, and how was your gum? Do you feel any aching or pain when you run , have cold, or sneeze? Do you think it’s worth it to do it?
      Thanks.

      • Hi john I had my double jaw surgery 14 months ago and I still have numbess on my gums, lower lip and chin… I think the upper surgery is giving me a lot sinus issues so I been seen by a ENT… I can’t say much how other people feel but I do regret my surgery 😒 I had a cross bite so that was fixed but the side affects are worst than I thought… I knew there was a big chance to have permanent loss of feeling but I just don’t like that sensitivity that it left behind on my teeth, gums and my smile still feels very tight… I was also one of the few people that by moving your lower jaw you could have part of the nerve that controls your taste be affected so for that i no longer taste good the same 😫 I just want you to be prepared it might not happen to you but it’s always nice to be informed… ask your surgeon a lot of ??? I really do hope that with time it will get better for me 😏 Best of luck

        • Is that anything to do with surgeon ? What age you had it done? So, you have both cross bite and underbite ?Thank you

          • I only had a cross bite and I was 35 when I had the surgery… my surgery was done at UCSF in San Francisco by a well know oral surgeon…

        • I am really sorry to hear , I hope you feel better soon. It’s too bad that we can’t see pictures in here.

      • The only ongoing issue I have from the surgery is numbness in some parts of my neck, jawline and gums but it’s hardly noticeable. Most definitely worth it.

  13. I wanted to ask you is there any disadvantage of double jaw surgery and how many chances are there for its successfulness ?

  14. I had double jaw surgery just over a month ago, i am still pretty swelled. Just wondering if its true i will get cheekbones once the swelling is gone?

    • Mine were more pronounced but it just depends on your face, some people have them some don’t.

    • I heard about this too. I have a flat face so I was wondering if bringing my jaw back (underbite) will make my cheekbones more prominent and I think it will! I hope so.

  15. Did anyone that have jaw surgery have to have a splint which is like a huge plastic mouth guard ??? I had surgery 5 weeks ago and I’m wondering if when I get the splint out my bite will be even different. And does an “open bite” mean I can’t close my mouth ?? Currently can’t get my lips to touch causing my teeth and splint to always be showing. Thanks !

  16. I’d like to know more about how is your life going to change after lower jaw surgery ? I mean after cutting the bones , do they get back together ?
    Concerning sports , Can you work out ? … and what if someone hits you or punches , is it going to be a problem ?

  17. I’m about to have a double jaw surgery on February 14th and I had lots of questions and worries. Thanks for answering a lot of those questions and giving me more information on the surgery, it definitely makes me feel more prepared for the surgery it self and the healing process afterward.

    • Hello Bernice, I hope your daughter is doing ok. I had upper jaw surgery 8 months ago. I felt the pain mostly in my sinuses also and my ears would feel blocked and then clear. It does improve but took a few weeks for me. She can take sudafed as well as ibuprofen and paracetamol. She won’t be allowed to blow her nose until at least 2 weeks post op (so she should be ok now ) and will need to go gently when she does but that really helps too. Hope things improve for her soon, Mel x

    • Good luck Kristen, you will be fine x

  18. I recently had my jaw surgery on Dec 21st 2016 or roughly 2 weeks ago. Everything feels good and I have been off work for all that time. I work with chemicals so I wear a respirator and I have it fairly tight to keep a good seal. could the respirator cause my jaw to heal in the wrong position or will the plates the surgeon used keep everything in place?

  19. Hello I’m not a doctor but my 25 yr old daughter just had double orthognathic surgery. It’s only eight days today and has alot of pressure pain towards her ears and sinus pain. did you have any head pain? or ear pain and her throat is killing her.
    Maybe you need to contact your doctor to find out about the feeling that you have inside of your mouth I hope that you didn’t eat anything that you shouldn’t have.

    • I had surgery in November and had terrible ear and sinus pain and pressure. My advice is decongestants and ibuprofen. I had surgery 6 weeks ago and still get ear pain,when the weather changes. It’s not as painful as it was a month ago.

      • Hi Mikki, I had this too. Still get some sinus pain 8 months post op but it’s only occasional now but sudafed sorts it out. My ears arwould so much better too and don’t hurt or fill up now . Take care, Mel x

      • That sounds horrible, I wasn’t warned about that. Can it damage your ears permanently? I already have tinnitus, and when I’m congested with a cold, my tinnitus is louder.

        Does the ear/sinus pain go away after a few months?

  20. Tomorrow is 9 weeks post op(Lower jaw reduction surgery BSSO). So far every thing is fine. But i feel some thing is placed between my cheeks an gum lines in molar area. Is this the screw becoming loose ? Could any one tell me if there any chance of infection after 9 weeks and how much bone fuse after 9 weeks?

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“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 live chat group. Don't worry — it's free!”

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