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. Hi Lisa,

    If you’re eating soft food at only 3 weeks post-op, you’re already in very good shape!

    As for swelling, it generally sticks around for around 2 months, so you’ve got a ways to go yet. Most of your numbness should be cleared up by the 3-month mark, but my surgeon told me I should wait for a full 6 months before I started worrying about it.

    So you’ve still got a ways to go before your swelling dissipated completely, but it will become less bothersome each week.

    Stay strong!

  2. Hi
    I had double jaw surgery on 28/09/11, top brought forward 6mm and bottom back. I had to plates at the front of mouth by side of my nose and plates/screws on both sides of my jaws, im still very numb and swollen around the mouth area and inside the mouth, gums and roof of mouth.
    I have bruising both sides, im 3 weeks post-op tomorrow and eating off a spoon (mash,soups,pasta,rice, puddings) drinking out of a plastic cup too.
    When do you think the sweeling and numbness will go, my chin and lower lip, 1 side of my nose and under eyes are very numb, im constanly putting cream vaseline on my lips there so dry all the time.
    Thanks for any advice

  3. Darnetta, I definitely had my full range of motion back by the 6-month mark. I’m still confident you’ll regain your movement as well. It’s possible you still have residual swelling that’s preventing your muscles from relaxing as much as they should.

    Have faith, my friend. Your body will fight the good fight and get you back to normal!

  4. Hi Graham,
    October 5, 2011 will be 6 months post-op and I still do not have my range of motion back I tried the tongue sticks,and putting my fingers in my mouth like the doctor showed me, I think Im screwed I am at 33 and should be at 40.
    Thanks,
    Darnetta

  5. Hi Sebastian,

    It seems like almost every operation has a unique recovery. It depends on what bone needed to be cut.

    One of my friends experienced the same results as you. He was eating normal food after 2 weeks.

    Glad to hear you had it a bit easier than some of us!

  6. Angela, to answer your questions:

    1) I went back to work after 2 weeks, but I didn’t really have any energy until about a week beyond that. I’d say 3 weeks is enough time to recover before heading back to school, but she likely won’t be able to speak very clearly so she’ll have a couple of quiet weeks.

    2) It took about a month before I could sleep through the night, but I was feeling fairly well-rested after the 2-week mark. Just make sure she sleeps with a heat pack on her face.

    3) I had no bruising, but I’ve seen others who bruised all down their neck. I haven’t encountered anyone who ended up with black eyes, but she may have to accept slight bruising on her chin and neck. It will go away within a month’s time.

    4) As for the taste of blood, it’s just something that you learn to deal with. She can be proactive and rinse her mouth out thoroughly several times daily to remove that taste.

    Best of luck with the recovery. She’ll do great. I’m sure of it!

  7. Hi Dom,

    I didn’t have a plate in my cheek, so I’m not sure what might be causing the itching sensation you’re feeling.

    I wouldn’t play soccer until at least 2 months post-op. If you end up playing, make absolutely sure that you don’t get hit in the face. I took a Frisbee to the face at around the 6-week mark and I swelled up like a balloon from it.

  8. Hi Graham, great blog you have here, very helpful!
    I had a look on here to see how long it will take to get rid of all the swelling. This is my 5th week post op from upper, lower ,chin and upper split jaw surgery and have a slightly more swollen cheek on the right then onthe left, im not concerned about this at all. Rather i left a comment to say how shocked i am to hear that you youwere still on fluids after 10weeks! That sucks, i was getting sick of it after a week, and was eating spaghetti and cheeseburgers( i was craving them =p ) within just 2weeks. Also went back to my normal routine ( uni + exercise and going out) after just 17days. I amvery curious to know if there are differnt methods in differnt countries? ( i live in Australia) i had it all done in one go and the surgeon put small plates and screws in to fix the bones together. I did not have wires or bands restricting my movement too much, although i couldnt have opend my mouthfar even if i wanted to. And was recomended to brush my teeth befor i left the 2night stay inhospital.
    I did suffer from anxiety that i wasnt getting enough air for the first couple of days, and sleeping wasnt great waking every 30 mins. Anyway thanks for the blog and good luck to all others!

    Written on tablet sorry for typos

  9. Thank you for your post it has answered a lot of questions for me, or made me now what questions to ask. In a few days my 13 year child is having her upper and lower jaw done (with bone graph) and, her wisdom teeth removed. She is very active in school and sports. School just started for us and she is going to have to miss a few weeks. My questions for you are, how long after surgery did you feel like doing stuff all day like school or work? When you went back did you go back full time or half days? My daughter is worried about getting sick at school or starting to hurt, yet she wants to go back as soon as she can. How did you sleep? I know that you said that you and a lot of swelling and spasms, but she is scared her eyes well be black, did that happen to you? Sorry one last thing, blood makes her sick, she does not like to see it, smell it or even hear about it. I keep reading that the taste of blood is going to be in her mouth for a few weeks. Was it a strong taste and how did you get it out.

  10. hi graham love the site andi am 16 and i have had jaw surgey on both my upper and lower jaw and on my trid/nearly month week i have two question did u get a little plate put in to your cheek to hold the bone in place and if so did yours icth and make your eye icth i am really worried about it and do u think i will be able to play soccer now or in a weeks time thanks

  11. I started singing again after about 2 months. You’ll be able to play guitar before that though.

    That’s cool that you do music at your church. I was a member of the worship team at the church I went to as a child. I played guitar and drums (but not at the same time, sadly).

  12. Thanks, and also how long will it take to sing cause i need to play the guitar and sing for my church.

  13. Justin, I started working out again at around the 6-week mark. I was still pretty weak, but I was able to get back to the level of strength I was at prior to surgery in less than a month.

  14. hey i have a question. how long does it take to recover and be active again such as dancing or working out? thanks a lot

  15. Ryan, I totally understand your frustration with losing weight. I’m addicted to working out and this surgery caused me to lose a lot of muscle. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’re able to get back to your previous physical condition once you can tackle a regular diet again.

    What sport landed you with a broken jaw?

  16. Hi i had jaw surgery on June 7 as my jaw was broken playing sports. I had a titanium plate and screws that are put in permanently. I have lost close to 14lbs which I didn’t need to lose. But there is not much you can do about that. I an 2 months out of surgery. Eating soft food haven’t had any complications. I had 2 visits of physical therapy and am at 37mm opening so I’m close to full range of motion. My surgeon also corrected my underbite while he was in there. Alot of it is mental. It sucks losing the weight. I was at work a week later and now I’m lifting weights and can’t wait to start eating chicken in a few weeks. My surgeon in Florida was great and follow what they say and you shouldn’t have any problems

  17. Tomorrow morning, eh? Sounds like an exciting day! Make sure you enjoy your final few hours of free speech for the next few weeks, Karen! =)

  18. Wow…its nice to realize how many people go through this surgery and make it out okay. I am having my double-jaw surgery tomorrow morning and I am very anxious about it. Hope all goes well for me…your blog is amazing, it provides a lot of helpful information!

  19. Sarah, glad to hear you’re finding the site useful! You wouldn’t like Edmonton right now. They have a crazy mosquito infestation!

    Keep up the good work with the positive attitude, my friend!

  20. Hey Graham, I’m an 18 year old from Ontario (lived in Edmonton last summer and can’t wait to go back!!) Anyways i’m 9 days post op for an overbite and an asymeyrical upper jaw, your posts have been helping me so much! So i’d just like to say thanks for keeping me positive! 🙂 Sarah

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