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

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1200 Comments

  1. Hello Jessica from Edmonton!

    Jaw surgery… what a way to start the new year, eh?

    My surgeon was Dr. Lahl from Renew Surgery on 109th Street. His website is http://www.renewsurgery.com. He’s a really nice guy.

    Who’s performing your surgery?

  2. Hi Graham!
    This is the first time I have ever left a comment on a blog, but I felt like I had to because your blog was so fantastic! It is so informative and the best jaw surgery blog I have ever read! I feel way more mentally prepared for the road that lies ahead. I am getting the same surgery Jan 23/2012 in Edmonton as well, just wondering who your oral surgeon was? It is great that you still regularly check the blog, hope you are enjoying your new smile!

  3. Hi Catherine!

    It’s certainly not uncommon to grow sick and tired of the same old soups and meal supplements. I don’t have many ideas as far as food is concerned because I just stuck with Ensure, blended soup, and smoothies.

    I know other people started blending up actual meals, but I was a bit too lazy to experiment with that.

    I would find a smoothie you enjoy and start making that. I would also start blending Chunky soups because you’ll be able to find numerous flavors of them.

    Best of luck!

  4. hello, i have been reading your blog and it helps to know that I am going through the same process. However, I am having trouble eating the right protein. I am on Day 5 right now and i had double jaw surgery. I have been drinking Vanilla Ensure, tomato soup and Chicken Broth but i have gotten so sick of those. Any suggestions?

  5. My skin did not change as far as natural oil goes, so I can only assume that any side effects related to that are a result of dehydration or the fact that your body is working even as you sleep to heal.

    I wouldn’t worry about it. Chances are that everything will be much more normal for you in a few weeks. =)

  6. Hey Graham! Nice to meet you too. 🙂

    Thank you so much for helping me here. It means a lot to me. 🙂 I just went to see my dentist this morning and she said I am recovering well. It’s just that I need to give some time for the swelling to go away. Yeah, I know I am rushing things up a little too much, but I just cant help it. Haha. Thanks you for the advice. It helps a lot! 😀

    Oh and, one more thing, will your face get oily very easily after the surgery? I don’t have this problem before the surgery but now my face gets very oily, especially around my nose and cheek area. I feel so horrible when I wake up in the morning cause it’s super oily and sticky. Is it because I am not drinking enough water so my face is trying to produce more oil? Is this normal?

    Once again, thank you for helping me, Graham! 😀

  7. Hi Sabrina, nice to meet you!

    My two pieces of advice for you are this:

    1) Don’t fret about your appearance until at least the 3-month mark. Your face is going to look a little disproportionate for these first few months and it is 100% due to the swelling. Everything will even out and line up once that’s gone. I promise.

    2) You will still be swollen when you go back to college in a few weeks, but that’s something you’re just going to deal with. The beautiful part of this is that people won’t remember or care once your swelling is gone. Your friends may notice, but as soon as you’re all healed up, you’ll realize that it didn’t even matter.

    The big takeaway here is to understand that you are your own worst critic and that other people are [surprisingly] not as shallow as you think.

    You’ll get through this, my friend!

  8. Hey!

    I am Sabrina here and I just did my double jaw surgery on the 7th of Dec, which is on last Wednesday. The doctor moved my upper jaw forward (I forgot how many mm) and lower jaw backward by 3/4mm . It’s the eight day since the surgery now and my face is still all swollen up. I know it takes time for the swelling to go away but my lips are super thick now.

    I look like I went and injected some botox to my lips and now they are double in size, which makes me look like a pig, cause my mouth is actually quite small. I saw the pictures before and after the surgery and their lips look just about the same for the people who did it. Why is mine double in size? Is it because it is still swelling? If it is, how long does it take for the swelling to go away? I don’t even dare to look into the mirror now. Feel so horrible.

    And as for my face, I used to have a heart shape face shape, but now it’s very squarish. I know I shouldn’t rush things and wait patiently for the swelling to go away but my college is reopening in three weeks time, do you guys think I have enough time for the swelling to go away? And would you recommend me to use some ice bags or heat packs? Cause my doc never mention it. I am starting to regret doing the surgery. Please help me. Thank you so much! 🙂

  9. Hi Bambi,

    That’s great that you’re having your braces removed already! Exciting, isn’t it?

    As for your pain, I’m not too sure. My jaw was still a little tight at the 5-month mark, but not in a painful fashion. If it’s giving you headaches, you should definitely tell your surgeon and see what they say.

    Also, at only 5 months into the recovery, you won’t be able to eat everything you desire just yet, but you should be able to eat most things. It may be another month or so before you can tear into a steak or eat walnuts and things like that, though.

  10. Hi Graham!
    I had lower jaw surgery on June 9th and still can’t believe it’s been 5 months. I am getting my braces off on the 28th! I am so excited after nearly 4 years. My orthodontist put me in 4 heavy square bands on Monday and even though it’s been 3 days the pain in my jaws, teeth, and temples is killing me! I had a lot of pain with the surgery which I understand is unusual and was on pain medication for 6 weeks, out of work for 6 weeks also. My job involves a lot of talking and the migranes were bad. I just am not really understanding why I have this jaw pain so long after surgery when my Dr says all looks great? Also, still can’t eat a lot of things and do not yet have the ability to open my mouth as wide as I should be able to. Any ideas?

  11. It is certainly surprising how differently people handle their recovery. You sound like you’re doing really well, Jerry.

    It’s interesting how we fight the way we look right after surgery but then eventually adjust to it.

    I hope it all works out for you!

  12. Hey! I just stumbled upon this website. It’s pretty amazing how differently everyone recovers. I had a super class III underbite. I had my lower jaw moved back 8 mm and my upper jaw moved forward 8 mm. Additionally, I had two bone graphs put in – one on my cheek and the other on my lower jaw. It was to help balance my face because my jaw (and my face) was growing slightly to the right.

    I didn’t like the way I looked about 3 weeks after my surgery. I kept thinking that it didn’t “look right”. But eventually, I liked the way I looked.

    I stopped taking pain medication 1 week after jaw surgery, and only used some Advil when they changed my band configurations. I started running by the 5th week post-op. I started going back to the gym at 6 weeks (push ups, situps, chin ups, but light weights and no benchpress) and started lifting weights at about the 7th week.

    I am about 10 weeks post op and my jaws don’t spasm anymore. I can eat nearly anything that I want, however, my jaws don’t quite have enough strength to bite into a crouton yet. Overall, I am very pleased with how it all turned out. I still have some more recovery to do, but the worst is definitely over.

  13. Hi Hannah!

    It is definitely reassuring to know that all of that awful swelling will go away, isn’t it?

    I’m a super active person, so not being able to exercise was driving me a little crazy as well. I started lifting weights again after about 7 weeks, but I felt a lot of pressure in my face whenever I exerted myself so I had to take it fairly easy.

    I started running again at around the 8 week mark and that wasn’t too bad. It takes a while for your energy stores to return due to the weight loss, though.

    As for going out with friends, I started doing that at about the 6 week milestone, but I still wasn’t able to eat too effectively, so I just made sure I was fed before heading out.

    I hope this answers your questions. Stay happy!

  14. Hey Graham,
    I just got lower jaw surgery two weeks ago, and stumbled on your blog today. It really reassured me that I will someday stop looking like my face gained 20 pounds! I just have a couple questions: first off, I run cross country, so not being to exercise is driving me nuts! I don’t know if you run, but when were you able to doing hard exercise again (opposed to just walking, doing light weights, etc.) Secondly (and this might sound stupid), when were you able to start going out with friends again (i.e partying)?

  15. Beezer, I’ve never heard of anyone having the operation to cure undesired movement of their jaw. You’ll want to speak to your orthodontist about this. It may be that your jaw is out of place or it may be that your jaw’s joints need reinforced somehow.

  16. does jaw surgery go for displacement of the jaw?

  17. Hi Lisa,

    The muscle and tissue tightness usually dissipates by the 3-month mark (at which time you can also open your mouth fully once again).

    As for your steak dinner, you might be able to pull that off if you cut your steak into manageable pieces. Whatever the case, make sure you chew slowly and thoroughly so you don’t work your jaw too hard. You won’t know until you try, right? =)

  18. Hi Graham

    Thanks for your email, just another couple of things…how long is it before the tightness around the mouth area goes, i do have sweeling there still like hamster cheeks, can smile a bit and opening my mouth about 10mm.
    I have heard that the bottom jaw is worst with numbness of the bottom lip and chin area, and sometimes you do not get all the feelimng back there.
    Im due to go out for a family meal mid December, do you think i will be ok to eat steak then (TGI FRIDAYS.)
    How long before the mouth can open fully.
    Thankyou
    Lisa

  19. Hi Plum,

    My gut response to this question is that love trumps looks, so you should go ahead with your wedding regardless.

    After thinking for a bit, I think you should be okay. Your wedding is a full 3 months after surgery, so you’ll be talking and eating again. You may be chewing slowly, but you’ll still be able to eat almost anything you like (with the exception of foods that are hard, like peanuts, or tough, like steak).

    Also, you should have a nice smile by April. You may have residual swelling, but most of it will be gone (and most of your feeling should be back as well).

    I would see if you’re able to have the surgery in early December to be absolutely sure, but if it can’t be moved, you should be okay as long as you have a full 3 months before your wedding. =)

  20. Hi Graham,

    Thanks so much for creating this site. It’s so good to hear other people’s stories of this surgery!
    I have just received the date for my double jaw surgery and chin augmentation to correct my overbite – 4th January. Problem is I’m getting married on April 7th and so I need to decide whether I want to gamble on getting a beautiful smile but possibly still be a little sore and/or swollen, or whether I should just get married with my horrible old overbite, but be pain free. I guess the deciding factor is, what level of discomfort am I still likely to be in at the 3 month mark? Will I be able to enjoy my wedding meal, and chew it properly? And what can I do to increase my chances of making my recovery quicker?

    Does anyone else have an experience of getting married soon after surgery? I am a little concerned that I will look back on my wedding photos and think I look like a big swollen hamster faced weirdo.

    Any thoughts or advice would be so welcome!

    • Hello, I know this was so so long ago, but I just recently got jaw surgery and am freaking out about how I am going to look for my wedding on July 10th..! I have a lot of swelling around my nose and cheeks and it’s really like thick inner swelling and scar tissue. My wedding is in 3 months and I didn’t know it would be this insane of swelling. Did you swelling go away by your wedding with just 3 months and could you feel your face to kiss you partner? I’m really scared and I don’t know if you will respond because this was 10 years ago but please please let me know your experience I really need it!

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