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.

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)

1734 Comments

  1. I am 7 weeks post op and really struggling with how I look. can there still be swelling around my nose or is this what I am going to look like forever??

    • Laura–
      I’m about 5 weeks post-op and still have plenty of swelling in the middle part of my face. Under my eyes and around the nose especially. I’m struggling with it as well. My surgeon said swelling can last anywhere from 4-10 weeks.

      • Personally, my swelling did not go away completely until about 16 weeks had passed, so try not to lose hope just yet. Even if you’re not noticeable swollen, residual inflammation can distort your facial features enough to make you look different. Hang in there! ๐Ÿ˜Š

  2. Hi I had a lower jaw surgery in April , I’m still a bit numb in chin area but last couple of weeks my right side of my jaw line from my ear down is extremely painful I can’t yawn without it hurting or stretch to far without it clicking , it’s been fine for months but now it’s playing up , what could that be due to it’s really stressing me out , my last post surgery check up was in August , what should I do as I’m so uncomfortable

    • Kerri, if your jaw is hurting whenever it’s stretched, you may want to call your surgeon’s office and ask them what might causes the pain. I’m not sure what would cause pain 7 months later, but your surgeon may have experience with other people who went through something similar. If you remember, I’d be interested to hear about what you learn. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  3. I am currently 5 weeks post op I had double jaw surgery and genioplasty. Most of the sensation on my face has came back but I’m worried about my lips and chin. My lips don’t close and when I try to close them it looks really bad. Does anyone know if my lips will go back to normal and if so usually how long. Also my chin is still numb and when anything touches it, it’s a weird pain/discomfort. Is this all normal I’m starting to get worried

    • Sarah, don’t lose hope! It is perfectly normal to still have numb areas and swelling that keeps your lips from closing at this point in the recovery. Your swelling can take up to 4 months to fully disappear and feeling can take up to 6 months to completely return, so you are still very early in the process. It is quite rare for lips to not return to normal, so I wouldn’t worry about that. As for loss of feeling, I was told that approximately 30% of patients are left with small numb patches. However, I had my surgery over 6 years ago, so that number may be different now (hopefully lower). Hope this helps! ๐Ÿ˜Š

  4. Can i join the chat??

  5. I am having my surgery in about two weeks. My surgeon said that I will most likely only need lower jaw surgery, but it is possible that I will need double jaw surgery. I was wondering if you know about how long the swelling will last for a lower jaw surgery and how the recovery will compare to a double jaw surgery, and when I should be able to return to school. Also, how would you compare this experience to getting wisdom teeth removed?

    Thank you so much!

    • Katie, lower jaw surgery is much easier to recover from, so it will be a blessing if that’s what you end up needing. One of my good friends had lower jaw surgery and he was eating soft food by the second week and felt back to normal within 6 weeks of surgery. I’m not sure if his results are typical, but he recovered at around double the speed that I did.

      If you have lower jaw surgery, you can probably return to school after 3 weeks of recovery. If you end up having both jaws operated on, you may want to take 4 weeks off before returning, noting that you’ll still be very swollen and tired, but should be able to last through the day.

      I’m not sure this operating can be compared to having wisdom teeth as it is kind of a different level of operation. Hope this helps! ๐Ÿ˜Š

  6. I am currently 12 days post-op and wanted to thank Graham and all of you for your contributions to this page. It really helped me get through the rough parts of recovery and manage my expectations pre-surgery. I would also like to share my experience and offer some tips that might be valuable.

    I consider myself very, very lucky. Not only to have had this surgery, but that I seem to be ahead of the recovery curve in a lot of aspects, minus swelling. The most important advice I would like to give for viewers in the early stages of research is to have their procedure done by a University if at all possible. Due to a change in insurance, I had to switch from a private practice in the suburbs of Chicago where I reside, to Loyola University in Downtown Chicago. I was upset at first because I had to start the planning process again from scratch which set back my timeline, but in hindsight it was the best thing that could have happened.

    I went from an original plan of being wired, bone-grafted, and “out for 4 weeks”, to no wire, no bone-graft, and back to my normal life in just 12 days. Universities are going offer a much more cutting-edge approach to the procedure and are almost always contracted with insurance companies to offer lower rates. Although my “peak swelling” lasted a few days longer than Graham’s, I already have feeling in most parts of my face, I can drink out of a glass without spilling, and I have been cleared to eat soft foods like mashed potatoes, rice pudding, and oatmeal using a spoon. I have most of my energy back and I am able to use to stationary bicycle at my local gym for about 30 minutes a day, along with a 2-mile morning walk.

    While I understand that all cases are different, I found that forcing myself to be positive and outgoing even during the worst days of recovery helped the process. If you have someone watching over you for the first couple weeks, have them go on a walk with you. The walks help and this time of year, the cold wind almost feels like an ice pack on your swollen face, it’s really refreshing. I would also recommend using a dry sauna if you have access to it. It was really frustrating to be stuck inside recovering, unable workout for the first week. The sauna allowed me to break a sweat safely, without all of the movement and head pressure involved with exercise.

    Best of luck to everyone with surgeries planned and for those of you in recovery, stay strong, that first week is something we all have to get through, it will be over before you know it.

    • Nick, fantastic encouragement from you and thanks for sharing your experience. You make a good point about universities having access to more cutting-edge techniques as well… I hadn’t considered that before. Stay positive and all the best as you continue recovering!

  7. 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?

    • Hey Tyler, this sounds very, very similar to what I had. The right side of my chin/jaw was super sensitive for about 5/6 months. It was like a sharp electric shock when ever I tapped it, or the toothbrush hit it, or I bit on something hard. Good news is that will go, I assure you. I still have a bit of tingling, and it feels a bit tight, and to be honest I might always have that, but there is no pain and easy to live with. Nerves basically just take ages to settle down and become less sensitive. Hope this helps. Hang tough, – all will be good. Ferg

    • Tyler, your nerves should not be causing you any pain this long after surgery. It sounds like you may have an infection that is causing pain whenever pressure is applied to the area. I recommend calling your surgeon’s office and explaining this to them. They may ask you to come in for a check-up or they might be able to reassure you if this is expected in their patients. I hope you figure it out! ๐Ÿ˜Š

  8. 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!

    • Shannon, as your nerves heal, you’ll likely feel “pins and needles” around your chin and lips. The feeling will be annoying, but I assure you it’s a good thing as it means your nerves are not permanently damaged in those areas.

      As for your ears, I unfortunately don’t have any tips to offer other than to take pain killers until the pressure goes away. If it’s quite painful and is preventing you from resting, you may want to call your surgeon and ask if they have any advice on how to deal with it. Hope this helps! ๐Ÿ˜Š

  9. 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?

    • Maria, if you only had your lower jaw operated on, you’ll recover much more quickly than those of us who had both jaws operated on. That being said, my recovery was also quite slow when compared to many people I’ve met through this blog, so if you’re recovering more quickly, consider that a blessing! Just remember to still be careful! ๐Ÿ˜Š

  10. 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.

    • Sabrina, you should be able to return to work and school after 7 weeks of recovery. You will still be swollen, but you should be able to speak and eat by that point and most of your energy should be back. ๐Ÿ‘

    • Hey! What kind of ear problems do you have? I had a bunch of things going on before I had surgery and am interested in the ear symptoms of others that they may benefit from surgery from

  11. 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. ๐Ÿป

    • 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.

  12. 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. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  13. 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.

  14. 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. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  15. 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.
    Thanks

    • 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! ๐Ÿ˜Š

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

        Stacey

        • Stacey, I didn’t really deal with any teeth grinding and clenching to speak of, so I’m honestly not sure. If you’re part of the chat group, I suggest asking if anyone in there has any experience with teeth grinding before and after the surgery. ๐Ÿ˜Š

    • 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

  16. 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. ๐Ÿ™ 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. ๐Ÿ˜Š

    • Patricia,
      I am interested to know how your recovery is going as im 7 wks post surgery (double jaw and upper rotation) and in exact same position as you posted in August. I have extreme paint in my right jaw joint that they say is TMD (didn’t have this before the surgery). My face is still very swollen and numb. Where they have put the titanium plates is super sensitive aswell ๐Ÿค

  17. 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!!

  18. 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! ๐Ÿ˜Š

  19. 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 2โ€“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! ๐Ÿ˜Š

  20. 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! ๐Ÿ˜Š

    • 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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“Over the past several years, Iโ€™ve done my best to respond to every comment on this blog, but unfortunately I no longer have the time to do so. If you have questions about jaw surgery and want to connect with others on this journey, please join the Facebook group. Don't worry — it's free!”

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