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 before the surgery and during the recovery. There are over 75 people from 20 countries chatting right now and it's free to join.

(example of a recent conversation)


  1. It been 6 months since my surgery. I still don’t have feeling on the right side of my jaw and can’t eat or apply any pressure on the right side of my jaw including eating because it causes a sharp pain where the nerves are. Normal?

  2. I’m one week post op, and the sensation is returning to my chin, but it’seems annoying, and moves in a line almost. Is this normal? Also, my ears are killing me!

  3. Heyy, I have had double jaw surgery a week ago. And I’ve read everything here. But is it dangerous/normal that everything that is written here till week 42 I’m able to and do?

  4. I’m thinking about having the surgery done. I have a lot of ear problems and my doctors all tell me it’s because of my jaw. Would I be able to return to work school and work after 7 weeks.

  5. Hello:)
    I just had my bottom jaw surgery about 15 days ago & I never ask my Surgent after how many days or weeks was it okay to drink any alcoholic drinks. I’m pretty sure you could possibly know…..maybe?
    Thank you!

    • Tatiana, the main reason for avoiding alcohol during recovery is to prevent infection. I would recommend staying away from alcohol until either 6 weeks have passed or you’re back to eating solid food, whichever comes later. However, if you want to drink earlier, there’s no harm giving your surgeon’s office a quick call to ask for their advice. 🍻

    • hey tatiana. do you have before and after pics. my ortho says i need surgery and that i would most likely only need the bottom one operated on as my under/open bite is not severe.

  6. How do I join the Chat? I’m a little ways away for my jaw surgery. It’s scheduled 2 months away.

    • Amanda, I’ve already invited you to the chat group and it says you accepted the invitation. Try searching your email for the word “Slack” to see if you can find the email with instructions on how to join. 😊

  7. Hi! 4 weeks out of double jaw surgery.

    I got my splent out today and switched to night elastics. Feeling pretty good but I have a few questions,

    How long until I am able to open my mouth wide as I was before the surgery? Currently, I can only open it about 3/4 of an inch.

  8. Graham,

    How bad was your open bite on the left hand side? Did they give you an explanation?

    Tell where on your blog…I think I remember x-rays or photos.

    Dealing with a significant open bite here.

    • JB, you can see my open bite in this x-ray taken 3 months after my surgery. My bite has since naturally closed to the point where I no longer notice it, but it took about a year for that to happen.

      The reason for the open bite was that the surgeon felt he was unable to safely move my jaws enough to produce a perfect bite all around. I trust his judgement and am happy to say that my open bite no longer affects me.

      Try to remain hopeful. Your bite should naturally close over the next year as your teeth continue to grow together. 😊

  9. Hi, I’m over 8 weeks post op. I had double jaw surgery with my top jaw being split into segments. I was wondering if you had any sensitivity in your teeth? It’s only just started and seems to be only affect the top teeth. I only really notice it during brushing but it hurts and makes me not want to continue.

    • Bethany, I also had my upper jaw split during surgery and I do experience weird sensations in my teeth once in a while. I’m not sure what causes them, but they are not painful for me, so I haven’t looked into it.

      Given that this sensitivity is painful for you, I recommend asking both your surgeon and orthodontist about this at your next visits. This surgery should not leave you with any painful sensitivity anywhere, so it’s possible this is due to a cavity, a small infection, or something else.

      If your next visits are quite far away, there’s no harm in calling your surgeon and orthodontist to simply ask what might be causing the sensitivity.

      Sorry I don’t have a more definite answer for you. Hope this helps! 😊

      • Graham- does the teeth grinding and clenching get better after the surgery ? That part worries me since having double jaw surgery in 6 weeks.


    • My teeth are extreme pressure like a navy teething. Even bought mouth guard which Dr says not to usr. I’m grinding and need to bite down on something. Now have to see ortho asap. Nervouse thinking bones not fusing. Btw I’m 7 weeks lost double jaw surgery

  10. Me again. Getting worried now. It’s been 8 weeks post surgery. The right side of my face from under the eye to lips and chin r completely still numb. I can’t talk properly and my top lip protrudes, coupled with the increased nose width that surgery caused I’m looking like a monkey! I can’t chew properly and certainly can’t return to work. My life seems ruined at present, I can’t eat in public as food just dribbles down my chin and when I try to speak people look at me with sorrow in their faces. I’m almost trapped in my house as I don’t want people to see me.. I could have never believed that this disaster could happen to me!

    • Patricia, I hear what you’re saying and am really sorry you feel this way. 🙁 Remember that you are not yet recovered, though, and that nerves are delicate things that take time to heal. Swelling is also very sneaky in that even when you think it’s gone, residual swelling can still distort your appearance. I remember still being swollen even at 3 months of recovery, but my facial features finally relaxed around the 4-month mark. Hang in there and try to be patient as your body continues to heal.

      I’m not sure if you’re in the chat group, but you may want to join and share your worries there. A lot of people in the group have had similar feelings, so it may be helpful to talk with them and see if their swelling eventually went away and ask them how they dealt with it at 8 weeks of recovery. 😊

  11. Just got oit of surgery mouth is wired shut ia it noemak for it to feel like ur teeth are pressured together?n when i drink n swallow it feels like they might move is that normal?am i over worrying

    • Hi Luis, I am almost 3 weeks post the same Adventure as you. My upper jaw was physically wired to the “splint” plate inside my mouth, and then the upper and lower jaws rubber banded together really tightly i.e. so tight that they may as well have been wired LOL. It felt like a LOT of pressure in there! Then at 2 weeks my surgeon replaced all of the teeny tiny rubber bands with just a couple of slightly larger bands…. huge improvement!! Also remember that limiting the motion of your jaws is necessary for the proper alignment and rejoining of the jaw and face bones. If you are concerned at all about the amount of movement of your teeth, call your surgeon (or have a friend call that can Talk on the phone for you…) and get some peace of mind! Hang in there, you are NOT alone!!

  12. Waiting to go into surgery now..kinda scared….im at harbor ucla medical center ..does feeling come back to side of lip n cheek? ?dr talking aboit its a possibility it wont come back..possibility??really wth…not kool

    • Luis, try to remember that it is a privilege to be able to have this surgery. As far as I know, there is a 30% chance that you will have small numb patches following the surgery, but keep in mind that means there is a 70% chance that all feeling will return.

      As someone who has a few small numb patches, I can honestly say they do not negatively impact my life in any way. In fact, the only time I remember I even have them is when people ask.

      Make sure to join the chat group so you have understanding people to talk with during the first few weeks. Hang in there and talk to you when your surgery is complete! 😊

  13. How do I keep my tongue clean? It’s looking worst and worst each day I’m currently day 8 in. Im not wired shut but rubber band shut so I can take them off and on. But it’s still hard to keep the tongue clean. It’s weird

    • Jalen, it’s normal for your tongue to turn weird shades of grey during the first couple weeks of recovery due to bacteria buildup. I recommend gurgling warm salt water 2–3 times per day to remove some of that bacteria. If you’re able to fit a small toothbrush into your mouth, you can try gently brushing your tongue as well, but stop if you feel any pain from doing so. Your surgeon will likely permit you to begin brushing your teeth and tongue again within the next couple of weeks. Hope this helps! 😊

  14. I go into surgery this Monday. How do you stay calm before the storm? Also when do you usually wake up from surgery? My surgery is schedule for 7:30 am.

    • Good fN luck so painful for 6 months! Dont do it!

    • Luke, it’s tough to remain calm on the day of surgery, but know that you’ll be recovered within a few months of that day and you can enjoy the results for the rest of your life. Try to focus on the fact that you’ll be in the hands of a skilled surgeon and that you’ll get to sleep through the operation.

      The length of this surgery varies quite a bit. I think my surgery lasted about 5 hours, but they usually don’t take quite that long. You should be awake again by early afternoon.

      Try to remain positive and know that we’re hear for you if you have any questions or just need to rant! 😊

    • Hi Luke, you can do this and OMG you are gonna LUV the results! So number one focus on that. My double jaw with genioplasty was about 1 hour in pre-anesthesia, 4 hours in OR, another 1 hour in recovery. In our area Upstate NY the normal protocol then includes an overnight stay usually right next to the pre-OR and Recovery area and then you scoot out for Home early next morning. Maybe I’m a bit nuts but I was extremely comfortable there and felt very pampered and secure. I tell you true, this is not pie in the sky: I am only 10 days post surgery. My nurses were very competent, brought me ice packs and vanilla milkshakes, and offered walks to the rest room, even before I knew I needed them!
      Remember you can ask a million and one questions of the nurses, doctors, patient care techs (BP, temp checks). They expect that, and they are proud to help you and teach you!
      Sending happy thoughts to you Luke for an amazing experience and recovery. And don’t forget to pay it forward when you can some day!

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