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 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)

5 Comments

  1. Hi Graham! Just came across your blog while searching google for some remedies and tips for my pain from double jaw surgery (to correct my underbite). I am now on day 9 since the surgery. Day 1-3 were the worst for me, I was in the hospital alone (due to covid-19 I couldn’t have any visitors) I had horrendous nose bleeds when i would stand or sit up, I was throwing up a lot of blood during the first few days. I was unable to open my mouth big enough to swallow the pain pills so my nurses were crushing them and putting them in juice which i would drink through the syringe thing. But my lips began to blister (huge blisters on the inside of my lip) after about 5 days after from the pain medication powder getting on my lips. By day 4 I started gaining a little more motivation to move and to watch a movie (For some reason the first few days had me in too much pain to even look at my phone or hear the TV on). Now day 9, I am experiencing excruciating pain when I laugh or smile it feels like the sutures are being stretched or tearing, and the pain lingers for a few minutes after like a tightness + sharp pain (brings me to tears). I also experience a runny nose with some blood. Talking is a little bit of a mission, people are starting to understand me now. But when the stitches start to ache and sting the ability to talk starts to fade. I had an allergic reaction to the bacitracin the doctors provided for my lips which caused a bumpy rash on the corners of my mouth. So i switched to vaseline, but if you have any recommendations for products to use on my lips and corners of mouth that would be so helpful! I’m losing weight like crazy and don’t know what to do to keep the weight on I’ve been drinking Ensure Clear, Ensure Vanilla, blended soups, ice cream shakes, water, and juice. In surgery day I weighed 136lbs and now i weigh 125lbs. I can’t think of anything else to eat while on the liquid diet, there’s only so much i can have. If you have any recommendations for food (aka liquids) options or ideas please let me know! Also what motivated you to stay strong while knowing you can’t eat real food food for a couple of months. I’m only on day 9 and it’s getting hard. I watch food videos on repeat and i crave so much food food. Any tips you have at all for pain, sleeping, the discomfort in the mouth, smiling, laughing, foods, anything that helped you please send them my way! Thank you so much for your blog I read each and every post and it’s helped me feel less alone since no one around me really gets what i’m going through. Have a great day!

    • I didn’t have that many problems, when I had my surgery on September 24, 2020. When I came out of surgery the day of, I threw up blood one time and after that I didn’t do it no more. I have had a runny nose with a little blood, and it wasn’t that much either. After surgery and I went home, I didn’t get Nauseated or anything. It haven’t been 2 weeks yet, but it will be 2 weeks on October 7, 2020. I have already have stop taking pain medicine, because I haven’t been hurting, and I am already drinking out of a cup, but I haven’t progressed to a straw yet. I am so ready to start back eating regular food, because I can’t loose any more weight and plus I was already real skinny before I had the surgery. The first 3 days is going to be the worst, but after that it should be smooth sailing. My doctor told me after the 2 weeks mark you should be almost back to yourself, but still take it easy. You might experience so change in your face, such as the shape and size of your nose. But, I am really excited to see the end result!

      • Hi Cameron,
        I had double jaw surgery same day as you so it’s good to connect. I’m still on pain meds but able to eat many soft foods, (no chewing). I’m wiped out tho – I think being 53 makes a difference. My airway was restricted in a big way and the breathing improvement I have experienced is a miracle. I had a bone graft for an implant, too. I had my procedure in office because of sad insurance company denial. Ended up in hospital on day 3 due to infection with 104 fever. Upper cheeks are sore and hard. Upper lip is still real fat. Most jaw swelling is done. Chest bruising is on final yellow color stage. All kinds of things going on but for the most part I’m headed in the right direction. I run out of gas pretty quick. Good luck to you, this is a good forum. Thank you.
        Mark

  2. The swelling continued to get worse. I was taking a mix of Ibuprofen and Vicodin for pain. Sleep was hard to get as I was just so uncomfortable. My jaw would clench when I slept and my head would roll uncomfortably from side to side, or up and down. I was up every two hours as I was drooling and bleeding and dealing with shooting pains under my right nostril where one of the incisions was made. I also had a low-grade fever which the Doctor was not concerned about and thankfully it went away pretty quickly. I started taking Miralax since I hadn t pooped since before surgery at this point. I was given a prescription laxative but I read that it was super strong and overkill for a lot of people (Thankfully the Miralax kicked in and worked within 24 hours).

    • Since it have been a while since your surgery, when did you start back to eating regular food? Maybe like fish, or soft shel tacos

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