Recovery Timeline

Following is a brief timeline of important events regarding recovery from double jaw surgery. If you only had a single jaw operated on, your recovery will be much quicker than this.

Keep in mind that every person recovers at a different pace, and also that every surgeon has their own agenda during the recovery process. This is simply the sequence of important events that took place during my personal recovery.

Day 0 (Surgery)

  • You’ll be eating/drinking through a syringe
  • You’ll be unable to sleep very much
  • You may be freezing all night long due to the ice packs wrapped around your face
  • You’ll feel extremely weak
  • You won’t be able to talk
  • You will drool constantly (but you’ll have the suction tube in the hospital to take care of that)
  • Lots of blood will be churning up inside your nose, mouth and throat
  • Your jaw will randomly spasm (and it will be painful)

Day 1

  • Swelling will begin

Day 3

  • Swelling will peak
  • Your bowels will start working again around this time

Day 5

  • Feeling will begin to return to parts of your face
  • Swelling will start to decrease

Day 7 (1 week)

  • You’ll be able to move your mouth a bit easier, so your talking will become more understandable
  • At your 1-week appointment, you’ll be able to brush your teeth, both inside and out (and it will feel amazing)

Day 10

  • Drooling won’t be as rampant any longer
  • You’ll regain slight control over your lips

Day 14 (2 weeks)

  • Most of the swelling will be gone
  • You’ll be able to start drinking from a cup (although it may be messy at first)
  • You can probably remove a few of the elastics clamping your teeth together, so talking will become infinitely more simple
  • Sleeping through the night should no longer be a problem

Day 15

  • Your elastics will start snapping daily, due to your rapid increase in speaking

Day 18

  • Your breath will become bearable again, due to the fact that you’ve been eating different foods and brushing more often

Day 21 (3 weeks)

  • Your energy will start to come back. Take advantage of it! Go for walks and take your bike out for a spin.

Day 22

  • You’ll be receiving substantial feeling back in your upper lip and cheeks. Your nose, lower lip and chin, however, will remain completely numb.

Day 28 (4 weeks)

  • Talking will hardly be an issue any longer. If you have a splint/bite plate in, you’ll sound ridiculous, but people will be able to understand you.
  • Your desire to be social and spend time with people will return in full force. Make sure you take advantage of it, and remember that your friends are not judging you.

Day 29

  • Feeling will begin to return to your lower lip and chin. That feeling will come in the form of pins and needles, but you’ll appreciate it regardless. If no feeling has returned to these parts yet, don’t worry. Surgeons say that it make take up to 90 days for feeling to begin coming back.

Day 31 (1 month)

  • If your elastics are off, you’ll be able to speak quite well by now
  • You won’t drool or spill any longer while eating

Day 32

  • You’ll have most of your normal energy back by now
  • You’ll begin to feel like you’re ready to take life on again. Be warned though: you’re not quite there yet. Give it another month before you go crazy.

Day 38

  • More patches of feeling will return to your chin and lower lip
  • You should no longer have to wear elastics during the day

Day 42 (6 weeks)

  • You should be able to drink through a straw quite easily by now

Day 45

  • Most of your stitches should have dissolved by now

Day 49 (7 weeks)

  • If you had a splint in, it should definitely be removed by now
  • Be prepared to readjust back into the world of orthodontics

Day 56 (8 weeks)

  • You should be able to eat with a small spoon or fork again
  • Licking your lips should be no problem at this point

Day 58

  • You’ll most likely be allowed to blow your nose again. Be gentle, though, because you don’t want to pop a blood vessel.

Day 70 (10 weeks)

  • If you haven’t been able to eat solid food yet, start now. Even if the task of eating involves mashing soft food up against the roof of your mouth, do it anyway. You’ll never gain your strength back on liquid alone.

Day 84 (12 weeks)

  • You should enjoy the freedom of eating just about anything you want by now
  • Consider practising whistling in order to break up the scar tissue that’s sure to be keeping your upper lip from enjoying its full range of motion

Day 90 (3 months)

  • Your three months have finally come to an end! Enjoy eating, breathing and smiling to their full effect.
  • Changes will be fairly slow from this point forward. The results you find yourself with at the 6-month mark will most likely be the results you’ll live with for the rest of your life.

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 250 people from 50 countries chatting right now and it's free to join.

(example of a recent conversation)

9 Comments

  1. I had a jaw surgery many gears ago (maybe 7 years ago).
    It feels like I still have strings in my gum and I can fell them with my hand. For example in the middle off the upper lip I can pull the gum up on eder side but exactly in the middle of the inner side of the upper lip is a string that pulls when I do. My gum feel much tighter due to this strings and I have dimples when I smile now.
    The question I want to ask is if it sopos to be like this or if the surgeon forgot to remove threads when they stitched the mouth back together?

    • Karl, I’ve never heard of the feelings you’re describing, so you may want to call your surgeon’s office and ask if any other patients have ever mentioned something similar.

      The stitches surgeons use are usually designed to dissolve within the first couple of months, so I don’t think it’s possible that you have actual material left inside your gums or cheeks.

      My best guess would be residual scar tissue. Scar tissue is known to pull on the areas it is connected to and presents feelings of tightness and restricted movement. It can usually be broken up by whistling several times each day, so try doing some research on scar tissue to see if it lines up with what you’re feeling. Hope this helps! 😊

  2. Hi Graham,

    I had my double jaw surgery on last Tuesday, which was one week ago.

    But I still can feel the numbness on my chin,lips and partial of my cheek. Is this normal to still remain numb after 1 week surgery?

    Even though I was told my nerves are completely (no break) during the surgery, but I feel uncomfortable for the numbness on my chin and lips. 🙁

    However, the good thing is my swelling has reduced a bit.

    Please tell me if this is a normal stage and when will the numbness disappear after surgery.

    Thank you so much for your help!

    • Hui, it is normal to feel numb for up to 3 months, so no need to worry yet. Also remember that residual swelling can take up to 4 months to go away, so if you’re concern with your new appearance, try to be patient until at least 4 months have passed so you can see what you look like without swelling distorting your features. Hang in there and try to think positive! 😊

  3. I’m 32 days post op. Feeling is coming back and just waiting for the feeling in upper lip, bottom lip and chin. My concern is regarding eating. I’m not able to eat much as you’d expect but I’m unable to open my mouth wide probably about a finger or a bit more but I’m also kind of struggling to swallow. Is this usual or not?

    • Josh, it’s normal at this point to still have restricted movement in your jaw. I wasn’t allowed to begin eating solid food until 49 days post-op and the amount I could open my mouth only started improving after that point.

      To speed this process up, you can try singing a few times throughout the day. Do note, however, that this activity will probably increase swelling the following day due to the extra movement. At the end of the day, you’re still very much in the “have patience” part of the recovery. 😊

      • Thanks I thought that’d be the case. Really appreciate it and big fan of the site and I always end up looking at it every few days

        • Me again. Is it usual to get gum or tooth ache? I’ve started to get it and it doesn’t to go away.

          • As long as it’s not constant, you should be alright. If the pain is constant, you may want to visit your surgeon’s office to make sure you don’t have an infection.

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