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.

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72 Comments

  1. Does anyone have any idea when I’ll be able to open my mouth wider? It’s been three weeks since my underbite and upper jaw surgery and i can open my mouth just over a finger wide. It doesn’t feel like my jaw will physically open any wider though, when does this go away?

    • It does get wider. I had upper and lower surgery and can now just open over two fingers wide but have to wear elastics and not been doing stretches recently due to laziness. Think my surgery was 3 months ago though.

  2. Hi guys, I had my surgery 8 days ago. I only had my top jaw done.. 2ml up and 4ml forward. My swelling has nearly gone, I’m bruised from my eyes to my neck. I can breathe through my nose again. Feeling is yet to come back completely in my face and top jaw. I’m happy. The only thing I’m struggling with is not eating. I just want to get my mouth around a chicken burger.. lol.

  3. To all of you who are feeling like poop after having your surgery i just wanted to tell you all how brave you have been and i wish you all a speedy recovery. I had my surgery on my birthday 15th June 2016. It was a struggle to recover physically but the biggest challenge i have had was being diagnosed with post operative depression. Not only did i lose 21 pounds in the first 2 weeks i also lost my confidence and my sanity. I have good news it doesn’t last. For me even though at the time it felt like my world was becoming a painful dark lonely place… now that i am 7 months post op i do believe it was worth it. So if there is anyone that is not long after having the operation and is feeling a little deflated.. it will get easier i promise you.

    • Patricia Hughes

      February 5, 2017 at 3:30 am

      After 7 months. I’m still unable to return to work. The surgery caused major ear problems. I hear my own voice in my head, it’s like being in a areoplane with your ears able to pop. There is an op to fix it but never going there again.. my appearance is ruined, nostrils so wide I look ridiculous. I now have lower jaw facial spasms, which look like I’ve had a stroke. Can’t eat comfortably and can’t feel gums, lower lip or chin. For me it has been a disaster.. if only I could take back time. I suffer everyday now .

  4. I had my jaw surgery last year in september 12th so Im soon 5months post op and I still have some swelling in my face, I can wake up and I am more swollen on the right side of my face or it can be left. My swelling switches sides and somedays I can be completely swollen and round in my face. I am very worried cause I am soon 5months and then 6months comes, I am worried that I will be this round cause I still can’t recognize myself when people take pictures of me cause my face is so round a puffed up. Please answer me and I am very worried about me resluts.

    • Emily, mines is the same and my op was 13th sept. I still can’t feel my right side or eat/chew for the pain. My face looks deformed. My surgeon keeps saying it could take a year to look better but I’m not convinced and very unhappy with the procedure.

      • I feel so bad to hear that, the only concerned that I have is my round face because I used to have a sharp face and my family too. I know my face is long because of my underbite but my family have a sharp face like I used too and it feels like that I lost something that we have in the family. I still have slight numbness on my chin but is not bad at all and Im not bothered by it. We can’t really do anything so all we have to do is to be patience and let the time pass, I guess.

        • Hi Emily,
          At 5 month you may still have some swelling so give it a little more time . Also you will get used to your face over time. I hope this helps.

    • You’ve got me worried now! Do young mind me asking what type of surgery you had and how old you are? My swellings just in my cheeks now and i’m getting worried it’ll stay there for a few months! I used to have a very angular face with defined cheekbones and i’m not liking my new round face 🙁

      • Hi Regan, I had upper jaw impacted for gummy smile and geinoplasty, I am 37 years old, and I am 1 year post op. It takes time for the swelling to completely go. give it a few couple of months at least for the main swelling to go. then after that you may still have some very slight swelling that can take up to a year to completely settle.

      • I got double jaw surgery and had a huge underbite that’s around 1cm. They moved my top jaw forward, lower jaw back and my top jaw was slightly crooked so they fixed it too. I was 18 when I did my surgery and now Im 19. These past days I noticed that my face have kinda gone down a bit but there’s days when the swelling hits and Im very puffy. To be honest I can barely see the differences but let’s hope for the best and I hope that it will keep on going down ! 😀
        Try to be positive about it because we can’t really do anything.

  5. I’m currently 10 days post op, i had my lower jaw moved forward to correct an overbite and my upper jaw brought down slightly to improve my overall facial structure . The left side of my face is more swollen than the right and the muscles under my chin on this side feel really tight so it’s hard to put my head back, anyone know why?

    I’m managing to eat with a normal size spoon now instead of a tea spoon and i can eat things like mashed potato and gravy and egg mayo (if the egg is finely cut). I can only open my mouth about a finger wide and the roof of my mouth is still swollen and numb, when will this go?

    swelling has really improved over the last few days, I’ve gone from looking like my face and chin were going to explode to just looking slightly overweight!

  6. I had surgery the same day like you do, surprise I have the same problems you do.But that should not bother you, its just that you have to control Laughing and Yawning that weakens the Braces and Wires…and take a lot of milk and Bone soup

  7. I had upper and lower jaw surgery dec 13 2016 my biggest concern was the limited breathing for the first three days now at 5 weeks I still have some swelling and numbness but it is going well back to work after 4 weeks eating soft foods lost 8lbs my concern is my nostrils look very wide especially when I smile it is very depressing as people ask me are my nostrils going to stay that way anyone have this ?

    • Hi Janet. My nostrils really widened a lot. It really has changed my appearance and not for the better. I’m having a clinch suture to bring them back in.
      Hope it helps

      • Thanks Trish who does that an oral surgeon ? Thanks again

        • Hi Janet. I went back to my surge that did the operation as I feel awful about my appearance. Wide nostrils and a turned up nose, is not what I signed up for. I had double jaw and genoplasty. Have to wait 6months before anymore surgery for jaw to heal then nose can be done.

      • I had turned up drop on nose and no skin above my upper lip – since surgery my nose looks sooo much better . BUT I shared my nose concern w surgeon prior to surgery – hope they get corrected for you

    • Hi Janet. I too have the same problem and like Trish below I went back to my surgeon to tell him how unhappy I was as it was never mentioned to me that my nose would change. From the beginning I was so unhappy but the surgeon kept telling me it was swelling. It is now wider, lopsided, one nostril bigger than other and I also now have a deviated septum so I can’t even breathe out of my nose like I used to. I am 1 year post op so eventually he had to agree that there was mp more swelling. I have gotten more used to my face now but I still am not happy.
      I also had genioplasty which I also hate. It was very difficult to come to terms which how I look and I hate photos, I never thought I would look so different. People don’t even recognise me, which is upsetting. My surgeon told be that he placed a clinch to hold the nose in place but it clearly did not work so well. He is going to fix my deviated septum and said he will put the stitch/clinch back in my nose to bring the nostrils back in. I am just hoping it is not going to look worse. Also he said he would move my chin back a little. Im hoping this will make me look more like ME again. I am currently waiting on a date for surgery.
      At 5 month you may still have some swelling so give it a little more time and air your concerns to your surgeon. Also you will get used to your face over time. I hope this helps.

      • Janet sorry my mistake I only realised you are only 5 weeks post op not 5 months so you will be still swollen. Your nose will get much better.

    • Janet sorry my mistake I only realised you are only 5 weeks post op not 5 months so you will be still swollen. Your nose will get much better.

  8. Hi,

    I had upper jaw surgery 1 week and 1 day ago. The most troublesome aspect of the swelling for me has been that of the back of the roof my mouth. I don’t know if that is classified as the palate, but the area near where my uvula hangs is so swollen making it extremely hard to speak and swallow. It seems to get worse after eating (well, drinking) a hot meal. Have you experienced this? Has anyone else experienced this? How long does this usually take to subside?

    • Hi. I had huge problems swallowing for the first week or so. By the end of week two I was OK with swallowing. However I drooled for two months. Everyone is different. All the best.

  9. Hi,

    I’m in the process of having lower jaw surgery to correct my underbite and Ive got braces on both my top and bottom jaw and I’ve had my wisdom teeth removed. So I’m waiting to have bends fitted and then they are going to fit a thicker wire and then take impression, I’m just wondering how long this process takes I’ve had braces on and off for the past 3 years.
    Thankyou

    • After my lower jaw surgery date was scheduled last May, my orthodontist took the 6 months leading up to my November surgery to make the adjustments needed to get my teeth in the right places for surgery and to take x-rays and sets of impressions. I had my wisdom teeth removed a year and three months before my surgery. The time it takes probably all depends on when you schedule your surgery if you haven’t already and how much time you have before it because once it’s scheduled they can start planning when they’re going to make certain adjustments that you need. I hope this helps!

    • It all depends. I had my braces put on 12/9/15 and then had my surgery on 10/19/16. I only had upper braces in the past, but it wasn’t for very long. Everyones teeth move differently, but I would be surprised if you’re in braces less than 6 months. Best of luck Imogen.

  10. I just had double jaw surgery on 04012017, its currently 07012017 and its the worst. My face is puffing so much and it is pulling my jaws aparts but at the same time the bands are pulling my jaws together, it feels like my teeth are being pulled out. on top of this, the pounding headache isnt helping and ice packs havent seemed to be working for me. I’m at ny wits end can anybody help me.

    • Oh dear I’m due to have it done in 2 weeks.

    • Hey dude I just had my surgery on 1/5/17 so ur a day ahead of me. Take the prescribed painkillers that should deal with the pain. Make sure u drink a lot of fluid and walk around. Sleep when u can too. We’ll get thru this bro

      • i’m finally seeing my surgeon tomorrow to get my bands loosened, and thank god the headaches are disappearing. all is well

    • You are three months post op and still dealing with that much pain? I had upper and lower December 7,2016 swelling bad for less than a week and the pain has been more throbbing than anything … hope you get to feeling better soon ~
      Stacey

      • Just realized you are 3 days .., take the pain meds use the ice or heat and try not to talk allot . That really stressed my jaws

  11. Hi I’m due to have total jaw replacement next week.
    I want to know about scarring? Will my face look different?
    Will my skin be pulled back to much where they cut me 😭

  12. Today is 67 days post op(Lower jaw reduction surgery BSSO). So far every thing is fine. But i feel some thing is placed between my cheeks an gum lines in molar area. Is this the screw becoming loose ? Could any one tell me if there any chance of infection after 9 weeks and how much bone fuse after 9 weeks?

    And i helped my mom with some cleaning. after that i feel slight increase in swelling. Is that a problem?

    anybody pls answer me. pls….

    • I think I had the same problem that you have. I am almost at nine weeks post op. Once the swelling went down I noticed a dime-sized lump close to where the screws are on one side from my lower jaw surgery. It felt pretty solid and I asked my surgeon about it and he said that it definately isn’t an infection. He said that it’s probably just a cluster of scar tissue and that it can be broken down by rubbing it. I rubbed it for a while and now it’s almost gone. You might have to push a little bit at first and it will probably hurt a little but it will go away (if it’s the same as what I had).

      I don’t think the selling is a problem… I notice that I get a bit puffier when I do something that requires more movement or is more strenuous than what I normally do, but it goes back to my normal amount of swelling the next day. I hope this was helpful! Good luck in the rest of your recovery!😊

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  13. Hello it’s me josh again. Good news is it’s been Christmas and I could eat my food around10 weeks after surgery. Just a lot of cutting turkey and small bites. Just curious to see how long it’s taking people to open there mouth wide enough again as I’m doing. Stretches twice a day and it’s only around a finger can fit in. Is there any tips to help with stretches as well

    • Hi Josh. Congratulations on being able to eat real food again. It’s wonderful, isn’t it? Continue to follow your surgeon’s directions as needed. When I was able to eat and chew food again last year (actually on thanksgiving), it took some time to get the routine of chewing normally again. If you do the exercises as often as you should, you should be able to open your mouth fully again within 2-3 weeks. At least from what I remember for me. Don’t lose hope though. You’re almost there!!

      • Yeah it feels great to eat food, some foods a lot more than others for some reason. I can’t drink juice anymore as it seems to be really sour now which I find unusual. I’ve been doin my stretched for few weeks and my surgeon said twice a day but think it may be time just to do more as my movement is still little. I’ve also got elastics so that may affect it as well. Any tips?

    • I am six weeks tomorrow and can almost get two fingers in my mouth.. Lots of muscle spasms on right side and my Dr has not given me any stretching exercises yet …

  14. Hi I had a lefort 1, bsso, genioplasty and all 4 wisdom teeth removed almost three months ago, recovery was pretty rough but I’m glad I went through with it. However I’m still swollen Especially in the upper lips and cheek area and I’m still very numb in the lips and chin area, I still don’t like how I look in pictures but maybe I’m just not very photogenic lol. Is anyone else still dealing with swelling, tightness and numbness 3 months post op?

    • I am 6 weeks and bottom lip teeth tongue and chin all numb on right side

    • Hi. I had double jaw surgery five months ago and still have some chipmunk swelling and completely numb lips (most annoying) and numb chin. I’ve been told it can take 6-18 months for the numbness to subside. You’re not alone!

  15. Hi there! Had my lower jaw surgery last Wednesday so I am on day 5 of recovery… I am able to move my tongue around more to feel my inner mouth. I’ve noticed that the right side does not meet when I bite down, like my left side. Is this normal? Also when I do bite down, I’ve noticed that my bottom does not come in a little but yet it touches the top dead on… are these normal? Am I over worried? Will these two things be corrected by my orthodontist? Or will I need surgery again….? please tell me that some of you guys had the same experience….

    • hi Ann. Do you have before and after pics. my Ortho said i’ll need lower jaw surgery for my open bite. i am currently waiting to hear back from the surgeon. i’m interested in the experiences of those who had lower jaw surgery only.

      • Hi Joanna!
        I had lower jaw surgery in the middle of November, and it seems like the recovery time for lower jaw surgery is definitely a lot shorter and easier than it is for double jaw surgery (from what I’ve heard). I could talk and drink through a straw right away in the hospital and I was able to leave after a day. I actually kind of enjoyed being in the hospital and it wasn’t scary at all. It was actually kind of peaceful.

        I felt pretty much back to normal after about a week (although I did get the stomach flu five days after getting home). I went back to my high school after a week and a half, and the majority of the swelling was gone after about 15 days. I had to stay away from chewing for a month and I am now at nine weeks post op. I lost about 13 pounds in the first weeks following the surgery, so I would suggest that you make sure you get enough calories in you even if you don’t feel like eating. Walking around and using heating pads helps A LOT in getting rid of the discomfort and pain (though there isn’t very much pain because of the numbness). Most of the pain that I experienced came from the doubled-up rubber bands on both sides of my mouth, which didn’t bother me anymore after a few days. It will take a while for you to be able to open your mouth all of the way, but it’s not too bad. The recovery was pretty easy for me and I am very glad that I went through with the surgery! My teeth fit together perfectly now and chewing works much better than it did before. I still have to wear the rubber bands so that the muscles in my jaw can get used to their new position, and I still have a little bit of swelling in my cheeks and a lot of numbness in my bottom lip and chin but I don’t even notice it anymore. I hope this helps you!! I was really nervous before my surgery because I had no idea what to expect, so I hope I was able to give you at least somewhat of an idea😊

        • Hi Katie!
          Thank you so much for responding, i really appreciate it. spoke to my ortho last week and he said he had given my records over to the surgeon so he is awaiting the proposed treatment plan after which the ortho will go through it with me. So hopefully by the end of this month or next month i would know what the plan is for me.

        • Katie- I had upper and lower December 7, went home the next day too but have healed incredibly fast . Lots of numbness in my lower right side too , hope it does not last as long as 3 months .. best of luck you you all in your healing .

          Stacey

    • Omg that sounds scary , so was that normal or not ? Did your jaw get better ?

  16. Hello Everyone,

    Had surgery this past Thursday. To add a little wrinkle, my surgeon said I had very dense bone in my jaw. He said this would contribute to swelling. I also have ITP (low platelet counts) which is generally not life threatening but makes me bruise and swell more than your average person.

    Graham, I kind of laugh at your swell pics. Not in a mean way, but my swelling was truly something to behold. Most of my friends that have seen my selfies don’t believe that they are real. If you want to see my day 3 (yesterday), let me know. Be warned, they are not for the feint of heart.

    In addition to my face. I had blood pooling in my neck and chest. It actually looks like I’ve been lifting weights, save for the reddish hue.

    The biggest challenge has been the constant pounding headache. As much as the swelling sucks, the headache has been difficult to keep at bay. if my mouth and throats weren’t so swollen, I think the Children’s Motrin or Tylenol with Codeine would be easier to swallow. The stuff is pretty viscous and would trigger my gag reflex. Couple this with an extreme lack of sleep and I found myself always waking up with a pounding headache. It was hard to stay in front of the pain. I suppose if I did it over (which won’t happen even if my life depended on it), I’d be more organized with my headachebregimems. Would just stick with a schedule instead of waiting for it to wear off.

    Regards

    Evan

  17. Hi, am currently at day 3 post op, and while I’m finding it quite rough so far, just wanted to say thank you for the information and support your post has provided.

    To anyone reading this before the operation, go in with your eyes open, as the first few days (so far in my experience) are pretty rough but it’s already starting to improve. It will definitely be worth it in the long term but be prepared to be quite grumpy and miserable to start with. The more you are able to drink, either sipping or with a syringe, the better as it feels like really hard work but does make you feel so much better.
    M

  18. I had a jaw surgery many gears ago (maybe 7 years ago).
    It feels like I still have strings in my gum and I can fell them with my hand. For example in the middle off the upper lip I can pull the gum up on eder side but exactly in the middle of the inner side of the upper lip is a string that pulls when I do. My gum feel much tighter due to this strings and I have dimples when I smile now.
    The question I want to ask is if it sopos to be like this or if the surgeon forgot to remove threads when they stitched the mouth back together?

    • Karl, I’ve never heard of the feelings you’re describing, so you may want to call your surgeon’s office and ask if any other patients have ever mentioned something similar.

      The stitches surgeons use are usually designed to dissolve within the first couple of months, so I don’t think it’s possible that you have actual material left inside your gums or cheeks.

      My best guess would be residual scar tissue. Scar tissue is known to pull on the areas it is connected to and presents feelings of tightness and restricted movement. It can usually be broken up by whistling several times each day, so try doing some research on scar tissue to see if it lines up with what you’re feeling. Hope this helps! 😊

    • Karl, Other than strings feeling, do you feel any other discomfort?
      Thanks for your time.

  19. Hi Graham,

    I had my double jaw surgery on last Tuesday, which was one week ago.

    But I still can feel the numbness on my chin,lips and partial of my cheek. Is this normal to still remain numb after 1 week surgery?

    Even though I was told my nerves are completely (no break) during the surgery, but I feel uncomfortable for the numbness on my chin and lips. 🙁

    However, the good thing is my swelling has reduced a bit.

    Please tell me if this is a normal stage and when will the numbness disappear after surgery.

    Thank you so much for your help!

    • Hui, it is normal to feel numb for up to 3 months, so no need to worry yet. Also remember that residual swelling can take up to 4 months to go away, so if you’re concern with your new appearance, try to be patient until at least 4 months have passed so you can see what you look like without swelling distorting your features. Hang in there and try to think positive! 😊

  20. I’m 32 days post op. Feeling is coming back and just waiting for the feeling in upper lip, bottom lip and chin. My concern is regarding eating. I’m not able to eat much as you’d expect but I’m unable to open my mouth wide probably about a finger or a bit more but I’m also kind of struggling to swallow. Is this usual or not?

    • Josh, it’s normal at this point to still have restricted movement in your jaw. I wasn’t allowed to begin eating solid food until 49 days post-op and the amount I could open my mouth only started improving after that point.

      To speed this process up, you can try singing a few times throughout the day. Do note, however, that this activity will probably increase swelling the following day due to the extra movement. At the end of the day, you’re still very much in the “have patience” part of the recovery. 😊

      • Thanks I thought that’d be the case. Really appreciate it and big fan of the site and I always end up looking at it every few days

        • Me again. Is it usual to get gum or tooth ache? I’ve started to get it and it doesn’t to go away.

          • As long as it’s not constant, you should be alright. If the pain is constant, you may want to visit your surgeon’s office to make sure you don’t have an infection.

      • Graham- so does talking cause swelling or the jaws to be sore ? I went back to work at three weeks , took one more week after but my lips and jaw seem to throb after end of day . I am six weeks tomorrow

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