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 muchย 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.

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58 Comments

  1. Hi there. I had double jaw surgery January 12th and the first week was absolute misery. I had nasal congestion and trying to breath from my mouth and drink was near impossible. I am just over two weeks now and most of the swelling as gone except right around the mouth and my nose. I am numb all over and the pins and needles feeling in my jaw is annoying but applying heat helps. The drooling is a lot less and the dry mouth which I equated to having to breath from my mouth. My lips and skin feel very dry and stretched however and constantly applying moisturizer. I have lost 20lbs and weakness is my worst symptom now. I feel hungry but as soon as I try to eat something that requires mild chewing my appetite is gone. I am now living on oatmeal and yogurt. I am trying to excercise my jaw but that is challenging also. Thanks for the blog as it’s reassuring to know others are going through the same.

    • Audrey, congratulations on almost being into your second month or recovery now! I hope you’re been able to start getting more calories in each day. Remember that things like yogurt and honey and packed with calories and should help with your weight gain and energy levels. Good luck! ๐Ÿ˜Š

  2. Hi guys, I’m 5 days post op and although doing well finding this an incredibly hard journey, credit goes out to each and every one of you. My biggest problem is dryness in my throat and mouth, which I can’t close. It causes me to cough and or wretch – not a pleasant thing to be doing right now!
    Thank you Graham for this blog it has helped me immensely

    • Tallulah, remember that the first 2 weeks are the most difficult. To help with the dry throat frustrations, try to drink a bit more water. Dehydration is a surprisingly common cause of things like a dry throat and chapped lips. Stay strong and good luck!

  3. Hi. When did you start on a soft food diet?

    • Georgina, I started eating soft food during my 7th week, immediately after my splint was removed. Most people begin eating soft foods after the first month, though. ๐Ÿ˜Š

    • Georgina I started soft foods after like a week, then slight chewing about week 3. I’m now week 7 and still on soft food but it is getting a little easier to chew ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hi Graham, Lene here.. I had previously left a comment on ur page a week after my op saying how demotivated I was! Well it’s just over 2 months now (op was 25 nov) and boy am I glad to have gone this far! However, there’s still puffiness in my cheeks and my right side is more swollen than the left. The left is pretty much ok already except for a biiiit of puffiness in the cheek. But the right side is visibly more swollen. It’s going down, I can tell. But realllllyyyyy slowwwwlllyyyy. Any idea if anti inflammatory pills will work?

    Also, I try bitung soft stuff and can break some up but it’s really uncomfortable so I choose to still just mash it with my tongue against the roof of the mouth. And eating just feels like a chore. Already lost 6kgs & I was thin to begin with. So my clothes are all hanging off me now lol. I’m afraid that biting will cause pain and it’s quite uncomfy when I try. Is that normal? I see people being able to eat ANYTHING by this point

    Lastly, I’m still speaking a bit weirdly like as tho I have stuff in the mouth. And my cheeks do feel full inside – is that scar tissue?

    • Hi Lene!

      1) It is normal to still be noticeably swollen at the 2-month mark. Swelling largely depends on how much you’re talking and how much you’re chewing, as these activities both require a lot of jaw movement. I wouldn’t worry about your inflammation, but there’s probably no harm in taking medicine to alleviate this problem if it’s bothering you.

      2) I can relate on this point because I only started eating soft foods after 7 weeks of recovery and I wasn’t able to comfortably chew until about the 10-week mark. I recommend eating soft food slowly right now and assure you that the strength and movement of your jaw will naturally return over the next couple of weeks.

      3) Your unclear speech is likely due to your swelling, but it’s a good idea to start whistling several times each day to break up scar tissue anyway. The less scar tissue you’re left with, the quicker your jaw movement will return.

      Sorry for all of my “be patient” answers, hehe. I hope this sets your mind at ease at least a little bit! ๐Ÿ˜Š

      • It does make me feel better! And you’re ‘be patient’ reminders are what I need because I should’ve learnt by this point (the 2 month mark) that patience is all it took for me to even get this far!

        So thanks veryyyy much! Your blog is like a Helpline! And it’s comforting knowing I can just come & post any query here anytime. Thanks again for still taking out the time to respond! Hope all is well with you ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Jada StrangeOwL

    January 23, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    Next year after I get my braces off, my doctor said I need jaw surgery cause of my under bite… So I wondering what are the conditions of jaw surgery, how long do people stay in the hospital after surgery

    • Jada, most people stay in the hospital for 3 nights following jaw surgery and then go home for another 3โ€“4 weeks after that before returning to work or school. Many oral surgeons offer a free consultation, so I recommend finding a surgeon near you and going for a consultation to see if they think you do indeed need the surgery.

  6. I’m almost 6 weeks post op and I can fit about 2 fingers in my mouth when I open it up. I was just curious when you could finally open your mouth as wide as you could before surgery?

    • Haleigh, you likely won’t be able to open your mouth as wide as you could before surgery until about a month after you resume a regular diet of solid food. It seems to take about a month of regular chewing to revive the flexibility of your jaw muscles. You can expedite this process by whistling a few times each day to help break up scar tissue.

      Personally, I didn’t get my full range of motion back until around the 4-month mark. ๐Ÿ˜Š

    • Hi Haleigh, i think you are doing great! i am 4 weeks post op an i only fit my thumb. Do your exercises daily but other than that you are doing fantastic!

  7. I’m 6 days post op and I have my first post op appointment with my orthodontist tomorrow and then I’m seeing my surgeon next week. I won’t know until tomorrow but my take on things is that everything is going perfectly. I’ve had tingling in all the numb areas of my face practically from day 1 and they have continued everyday. I’ve eaten as much as I could but the past 2 days I haven’t been able to eat as much due to my throat being incredibly swollen and my facial muscles being really stiff. I’m much more active now and able to do more things on my own. I’ve been brushing my teeth at least 4/5 times a day and using an antibacterial mouthwash. Oh and swelling has decreased a lot since surgery although I’m still pretty plump in the face. My eyes have opened a lot more and now appear larger and less zombie looking and my lips have also decreased in size ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi I had my surgery a week ago. I’m in a similar situation as you except for my teeth. How do you brush your teeth that often? Especially with the elastics and inconvenience of opening your mouth. And also, would it be safe to use a waterpik at this point?

      • Sorry I’ve only just seen this. I just brushed around the bands very carefully, I took my time. When it came to brushing the sides of my teeth I just gently pulled my lips to the side and brushed. It’s a little tricky and kinda hurts but it’s doable ๐Ÿ™‚ hope you’ve improved since last week and if not I hope my answer helps!

    • Georgina, it sounds like you are recovering incredibly well! Being able to brush your teeth within the first week of recovery is a huge win. Enjoy the upcoming appointments and stay strong!

  8. Hi, i’m going to have double jaw surgery in March and I’m a hockey player. I was wondering how long will it takes for me to get back at it? 2-3 months or more? thanks for your timeline, I was scared but it feels good to see how people react towards the surgery. Seems like I made the right choice and life will be better after it.

    • Hi Melyssa,

      I had my double jaw surgery on 10/29/15 and my surgeon cleared me to play soccer. So depending on if it’s ok’ed by your surgeon and depending on how you are healing about 2.5-3 months, most likely but like I said depends on what the surgeon thinks.

  9. Hi so it’s been five days since I had my surgery. How would I brush my teeth? Should I still brush them, even with elastics on, and just using mouthwash and not toothpaste? How about a Waterpik/water floss/oral irrigator?

    • I was brushing my teeth the next day. I just took elastics off and brushed as best as I could. First week was hard because some spots were sore and it was harder to open my mouth. They suggested buying a kids toothbrush at first so it’s easier to fit into mouth. I also used a mouthwash my surgeon prescribed for me. The nurses suggested a water pik but on the lowest setting. I didn’t use one but they might be helpful. Good luck!

  10. This has been very helpful so thanks! I had double jaw surgery on December 21st and had a rough two weeks with excessive swelling and hematoma. My swelling has gone down a bunch which is great and I get my splint out tomorrow, which I can’t wait for but I was wondering if anyone else experiences dizziness whenever they get up or slightly move their head? It happens with or without medicine so I’m not sure if this is common or what is going on any help is appreciated.

    • Hello,

      I had double jaw surgery about 5 weeks ago and I would get dizzy when I stood up or even laid down to go to bed. I figured it was from slight dehydration. I recommend drinking lots of water and making sure you’re getting enough to eat during the day. That seemed to help me!

  11. Hello. My name is Fatima I had a double jaw surgery on December 29th . I’m going to have my elastics cut and splint removed this tuesday. How long did it take you to start eating soft foods such as pasta after the removal? I’m honestly struggling on eating because I have a fast metabolism and all these boost and other shakes aren’t helping. The first week I went for a check up on how I was doing I lost 10lbs I now weight about 82lbs. Please tell me it wont be so long because I miss eating bread.

    • Hi Fatima, you’ll have to ask your surgeon when it’s okay to eat soft foods again, but as far as I understand, most people start eating things like pasta and mashed potatoes the same day their splint is removed. Your jaw will be very weak, so make sure you chew slowly at first, but as long as you don’t feel any pain, you should be good to go. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  12. hi ur blog really helped me a lot especially with the recovery.
    i am done with my double jaw surgery along with geneoplasty. its my 10th day post op. my recovery is exactly the same with the recovery timeline you have mentioned.
    the only extra problem i am facing is the tingly feeling or continuous tickling feeling especially in my chin and some part of lower jaw and it get ever more when i speak.
    which is really irritating.
    help me out with some tips and how long i should face this feeling?

    • Hi Virajay, the good news is that the tingly feeling means your nerves are healing! The only way I found to make the experience more comfortable was to rest a hot pack on my face for about 10 minutes several times each day. The heat will calm your nerves and make life a bit more comfortable. ๐Ÿ˜Š

      • thanks a lot for your suggestion… i will definitely fallow ur tips and again update you with the results… Cheers ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. I’m 5 months post-op now and my face is still swollen. I guess it’s not too obvious to people who never knew what I looked like before, but I certainly do look like somebody with cheeks. I can’t smile without looking awkward because my cheeks are still swollen. The area between my nose and top lip is also swollen, and you can see it in my profile view. I still feel pressure in my cheeks. Oh and my nose is so much wider.

    Anyone else still swollen this far down the recovery period?
    ๐Ÿ™

    • Hi Swollenface, nearly all of your swelling should be gone by this point, so it’s possible your swelling is due to either a buildup of scar tissue or an underlying infection. I would try chewing gum and whistling several times each day to try and break up any leftover scar tissue. I also recommend calling your surgeon to ask if they’ve had other patients who still appear swollen after 5 months to see what their advice is. Let me know what you find out. I’d be interested to know what the cause is. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  14. Hi there, my name is Haley and I’m having double jaw surgery this March, this page has been extremely helpful for information on what should happen but I have a few questions, did you bruise? If so where and how bad? Also I’m not exactly a confident person and I’m not sure I’ll be able to leave my house without makeup on, would this be an issue for me? Thanks in advance ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Haley, I did not bruise, personally, but it’s very common for that to happen. Many people notice bruising on their neck for the first 3โ€“4 weeks.

      As for confidence, you likely won’t be leaving your house for the first 2 weeks due to swelling and lack of energy anyway. After that, I do encourage you to go out and try to enjoy life again. Even if that just means going to watch a movie and spending time with a few select friends that you trust, it will greatly improve your outlook. Good luck!

      • Hi Hayley, I’m Lewis, I’m from the UK. I had double jaw surgery on the January 6th 2016 and I am literally coming up to 1 month post op. After having the surgery I woke and felt abit out of it. I had this mask on which was connected to an ice pack machine which pumps cold water around it to reduce initial swelling. Was eating and drinking water through syringes also taking medication which was codine , paracetamol and ibruprofen. I stayed overnight with a nurse looking after me then the next day I went home.

        The next two weeks I basically stayed in bed and watched boxsets whilst trying to get as much food in me as possible as the thought of losing lots of weight didn’t appeal to me. I had these protein shakes which had calories which helped keep me energised. Plus I had foods that I blended such as mince turkey, potatoes, soups, vegetables, eggs etc. After the two weeks I started walking a lot and getting out, I was fortunate to be able to rent out the machine which was used at the hospital (The ice mask) which I had for a couple of weeks which helped my swelling along with a cream called arnica which I put on before bed. I didn’t have a lot of swelling but the swelling I did have was around my cheeks and the bit between your top lip and nose. Swelling is almost gone apart from a little on my left cheek and numbness has gone too. Having hot showers helped too!!! Im back training in the gym this week too thank god!!

  15. Hi Graham,
    I had double jaw surgery on August 19th. First, let me say that you blog REALLY helped me throughout recovery (although it is not over yet!)
    I’m now almost 5 months post op, and I still feel some tingly feeling on the right corner of my bottom lip that goes down to my jaw line. Do you think it will recover?
    Also, one of the plaques is slightly bothering me, specially when I move my lips in certain ways… My dentist told me i might need to remove it. Did you remove any of your plaques? Do you know if that’s a difficult procedure?

    • Hi Maria, if you’re still getting that tingly feeling after 5 months, there’s a potential that you will have a slight lack of feeling in that area permanently. Do not fear, though, because if that is the case, your brain will soon adjust and you won’t even notice it any longer.

      As for the plates, I still have all of mine, but some people do need to get one or two of them removed due to chronic discomfort or infection. Unfortunately, I have no insight on that, so I encourage you to ask your surgeon for their recommendation. Good luck!

  16. Hi Graham I had double jaw surgery on Jan 14th and it is my third day. It is so painful and idk what I signed up for. I can’t concentrate or stay still without drooling. How can I stop drooling? and how can I make this more bearable?

    • Hi John,

      The first 2 weeks of recovery are certainly difficult, so you are not alone in feeling defeated.

      1) You will be drooling for the first few weeks, so I recommend keeping a washcloth or paper towel with you at all times. I went to see a movie during my 2nd week and had to take the cloth with me right into the theater!

      2) The key for surviving the first 2 weeks is to drink as much water as you can, get as many calories into your body as you’re able, and keep busy with activities to pass the time. Try to get outside for short walks several times each day. Find some TV series and watch them. Any time you feel tired, take a nap. You’re basically trying to stay sane until the 3rd week, at which point life will become much easier.

      Best of luck and let me know how it’s going in a couple of days! ๐Ÿ˜Š

    • Hey John,
      I had double jaw surgery on August 19th and I also struggled a lot with drooling… The only advice I can give you is to always have a towel or a tissue near you. It sucks, i know… but it will eventually stop…

    • Hi when does the drooling go away? It is so annoying for me cos of it

    • Hi John,
      My son had his double jaw op and wisdom teeth out at beginning of October. He was advised to overlap the paracetamol, ibruprofen and codeine (all liquid form) that the hospital gave so you shouldn’t be in any pain. Uncomfortable maybe and continuous drooling (he had a small towel under his chin all the time). Get advice (or someone to get advice for you) how to take the pain killers so you are in less pain. My son had ice packs on his face over the top of a thin tea towel and this really helped with swelling. Two packs on the face and two in the freezer. Swap over as soon as they melt. Use the syringes the hospital gave you (or get from pharmacist) to syringe lots of water. Keep hydrated. Hope this helps.

  17. Its been almost 4 weeks since my surgery and my cheeks and around my jaw are still swollen. Not as bad as it was before but my face still looks chubby. Is that normal? I still get tingly feelings on the sides of my face. Is there anything I should start doing?

    • Xavier, it is perfectly normal to be swollen at this point. The majority of the swelling takes about 2 months to go away, but residual swelling can take up to 4 months. So despite the frustration of still having a chubby face, there is nothing to worry about. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  18. Quick question. Had double jaw surgery. I’m experiencing tightness on my left side of my jaw. I am in loose elastics and still not eating food yet. I’m Also 5 weeks in recovery. Is that normal or has anyone else experienced this?

    • I am also trying to recover from my double jaw surgery and am almost into my 4th week. I had that tightness in my left jaw at first but it’s been fading away. Is the doctor having you practice your new bite? Because for me, before the surgery, my jaw was sliding to the left and now I’m trying to get my muscles to straighten out. That tightness is probably your muscles getting used to a new bite? If not, I think you might have temporomandibular joint disorder. I hope this answered your question. I’m not sure. Probably Graham Swan might be able to answer your question.

      • My jaw was sliding to the right and i have that clenching feeling om my right side alot like if im bitting down on that side more ):

  19. Hi just wondering how quickly you were able to go back to work?

    • Hi Alison, I returned to work as a software engineer after 2 weeks, but I was still unable to speak and did not have enough energy to focus for an entire work day.

      I highly recommend taking a full month away from work, if possible. This will provide enough time for you to restore your speech and energy levels.

  20. I had double jaw surgery on the 14th of December. Healing has gone really well for me. I’ve been eating all sorts of pasta and oatmeal since about week 1 post op. I got the okay so start chewing soft foods like pasta and soft chicken yesterday! I can slowly start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel! My only question is ever since surgery my face has been so dry and splotchy. Surgeon said there wasn’t anything from surgery that could have caused this. Just curious if anyone else had this issue. Might just be cause it’s winter. But just curious!

    • Hi Haleigh,

      I recall someone else mentioning a similar problem a few months ago. Their surgeon also said it was unrelated to the surgery. If I remember correctly, I think the issue went away after a few weeks, which makes me think it could be related to a weakened immune system due to your body spending so much energy healing the bone in your jaw.

      It’s also possible that a reaction to one of the medications you are taking is causing your skin to dry out, so you can attempt to forego your main medication for 2โ€“3 days and see if the problem resolves itself. Short of that, you would likely have to speak to a dermatologist.

      My advice is to leave it be for a couple of weeks and see if it goes away on its own, providing it’s not painful for you. Also, try to drink a bit more water to ensure your body is no dehydrated.

      Best of luck! Let me know what becomes of this so I can share it with future patients who experience the same thing. ๐Ÿ˜Š

      • Hi! My name is Honestie and I had double jaw surgery on December 8th. I’ve also noticed that my skin and especially my face is dry. It’s starting to peel. My surgeon said that its unrelated to the surgery and just might be me cause of the weather. I tried cleansing my face and putting a moisturizer on it but my face is still pealing and is dry.
        Thanks! I love your blog.
        Any tips?

        • Hi Honestie, I unfortunately do not have any tips on how to handle dry skin during recovery because I did not deal with it. You may have some luck by simply visiting your local pharmacy and asking them about it. If they don’t have any insight, an appointment with a dermatologist will surely help, if you’re willing to go that far. Good luck! ๐Ÿ˜Š

        • I had double jaw surgery on December 24th and experienced dryness in my face as well. I think it has to do with being dehydrated post opp and needing more water during the recovery process. As for the dryness, I apply organic coconut oil on my face after I shower or wash my face. It went away after a few days for me. Make sure to have clean hands when applying it to your face.

        • Hi Honestie,
          I had dry skin for a couple of months after surgery. I think it is due to the swelling which alters the normal flow of blood to the skin. Add to that heat/cold compresses and the skin gets a bit stressed. Just use extra moisturizer and it should eventually go away. I noticed less and less of it as my swelling receded. I also used a mild exfoliant to help the skin regenerate. I also noticed my eyes were dry – I attribute this to the swelling affecting the tear ducts. That also got better over time.

          • My face is no longer dry! Hallelujah! I changed moisturizers actually and that seemed to help a ton!

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