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)

6 Comments

  1. Hey Graham! Once again I return to your experience as well as the others on this amazing blog. I have left this comment before a few months ago but still have yet to see any change in my appearance. I am currently 6 months post operation (had both upper and lower jaw surgery) and my lips are still much bigger than before my surgery and it is very noticeable and to be truthful I’m kinda annoyed by them. Not only that but the right side of my face where my jaw was longer than the other side seems to be more fuller than the left and I was wondering if that will ever go down. I had my surgery at the mayo clinic in rochester but I’m kind of regretting my surgery as I think my overall appearance was much more appealing before surgery despite having s “straighter” smile now. Did anyone experience bigger lips after surgery, and is there any fix to this? Will it go down after I get my braces off? And finally will the right side of my face become less full so it’s more symmetrical to the left side, because right now I look as asymmetrical as I did before surgery because of the fullness on the right side of my face.

    • Stacey Lee Kelly

      February 20, 2017 at 5:59 pm

      I wished my lips had remained full- had upper and lower jaw surgery 12/7 and swelling went down pretty quick .. best of luck to you

      Stacey

    • so you had u dervite surgery right? i’m 16, bust had sarpe, upper jaw surgery, basically expanding. Was painfull and hard, the hardest for me is that i can’t eat very well 🙁 & i’m soooo curious about my underbite surgery, that’s like still 6-7 months but i’m patient.

  2. Hi. My daughter had upper jaw surgery (lefort 1), 5 weeks ago. The swelling is still there and her nostrils seem to have larger openings and whoville appearance like was mentioned. Do the nostril openings get any smaller with time?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Mary I read this and felt so bad for you and your daughter but did not want to reply as I am 2 months post and feel the very same way whoville I found this earlier reply and it applies to your daughter and I and may make u both feel better …………..I had double jaw surgery a year ago. Upper jaw and lower jaw were both moved forward. I wanted to encourage anyone who is in the recovery process to just be patient. Jaw surgery recovery is a long process and I can remember constantly searching the Internet for months after surgery for answers because I just looked so weird after surgery! I truly thought I’d never look normal again. My lips were extremely swollen initially and then they became invisible, as though I had no lips at all. I was worried it was permanent because it lasted a good 5 to 6 months, luckily everything turned out great. I honestly looked like a who from Dr suess’s whoville for so long, I was devistated. Recovery is the hardest part, give it at least 6 months to a year and trust me you will look great! My nose also looked huge for quite a while, along with my cheeks and whole face really lol. But it all was swelling that seems to last forever and I vividly remember being devistated that I would never look okay again. I want to reassure anyone who is going through jaw surgery that you will look perfectly normal and likely be happy that you had the surgery once the long recovery process is finally over 6 months to a year. Just be patient and try not to stress 🙂

      • Thanks so much! Patience is definitely not one of my strong suits but I am working on it. Thanks for taking the time to respond. Good luck with your recovery. Time will heal all.

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