Recovery Timeline

Following is a brief timeline of important events regarding recovery from double jaw surgery. If you only had a single jaw operated on, your recovery will be much quicker than this.

Keep in mind that every person recovers at a different pace, and also that every surgeon has their own agenda during the recovery process. This is simply the sequence of important events that took place during my personal recovery.

Day 0 (Surgery)

  • You’ll be eating/drinking through a syringe
  • You’ll be unable to sleep very much
  • You may be freezing all night long due to the ice packs wrapped around your face
  • You’ll feel extremely weak
  • You won’t be able to talk
  • You will drool constantly (but you’ll have the suction tube in the hospital to take care of that)
  • Lots of blood will be churning up inside your nose, mouth and throat
  • Your jaw will randomly spasm (and it will be painful)

Day 1

  • Swelling will begin

Day 3

  • Swelling will peak
  • Your bowels will start working again around this time

Day 5

  • Feeling will begin to return to parts of your face
  • Swelling will start to decrease

Day 7 (1 week)

  • You’ll be able to move your mouth a bit easier, so your talking will become more understandable
  • At your 1-week appointment, you’ll be able to brush your teeth, both inside and out (and it will feel amazing)

Day 10

  • Drooling won’t be as rampant any longer
  • You’ll regain slight control over your lips

Day 14 (2 weeks)

  • Most of the swelling will be gone
  • You’ll be able to start drinking from a cup (although it may be messy at first)
  • You can probably remove a few of the elastics clamping your teeth together, so talking will become infinitely more simple
  • Sleeping through the night should no longer be a problem

Day 15

  • Your elastics will start snapping daily, due to your rapid increase in speaking

Day 18

  • Your breath will become bearable again, due to the fact that you’ve been eating different foods and brushing more often

Day 21 (3 weeks)

  • Your energy will start to come back. Take advantage of it! Go for walks and take your bike out for a spin.

Day 22

  • You’ll be receiving substantial feeling back in your upper lip and cheeks. Your nose, lower lip and chin, however, will remain completely numb.

Day 28 (4 weeks)

  • Talking will hardly be an issue any longer. If you have a splint/bite plate in, you’ll sound ridiculous, but people will be able to understand you.
  • Your desire to be social and spend time with people will return in full force. Make sure you take advantage of it, and remember that your friends are not judging you.

Day 29

  • Feeling will begin to return to your lower lip and chin. That feeling will come in the form of pins and needles, but you’ll appreciate it regardless. If no feeling has returned to these parts yet, don’t worry. Surgeons say that it make take up to 90 days for feeling to begin coming back.

Day 31 (1 month)

  • If your elastics are off, you’ll be able to speak quite well by now
  • You won’t drool or spill any longer while eating

Day 32

  • You’ll have most of your normal energy back by now
  • You’ll begin to feel like you’re ready to take life on again. Be warned though: you’re not quite there yet. Give it another month before you go crazy.

Day 38

  • More patches of feeling will return to your chin and lower lip
  • You should no longer have to wear elastics during the day

Day 42 (6 weeks)

  • You should be able to drink through a straw quite easily by now

Day 45

  • Most of your stitches should have dissolved by now

Day 49 (7 weeks)

  • If you had a splint in, it should definitely be removed by now
  • Be prepared to readjust back into the world of orthodontics

Day 56 (8 weeks)

  • You should be able to eat with a small spoon or fork again
  • Licking your lips should be no problem at this point

Day 58

  • You’ll most likely be allowed to blow your nose again. Be gentle, though, because you don’t want to pop a blood vessel.

Day 70 (10 weeks)

  • If you haven’t been able to eat solid food yet, start now. Even if the task of eating involves mashing soft food up against the roof of your mouth, do it anyway. You’ll never gain your strength back on liquid alone.

Day 84 (12 weeks)

  • You should enjoy the freedom of eating just about anything you want by now
  • Consider practising whistling in order to break up the scar tissue that’s sure to be keeping your upper lip from enjoying its full range of motion

Day 90 (3 months)

  • Your three months have finally come to an end! Enjoy eating, breathing and smiling to their full effect.
  • Changes will be fairly slow from this point forward. The results you find yourself with at the 6-month mark will most likely be the results you’ll live with for the rest of your life.

Want to chat live with other patients?

Recovering from jaw surgery can be lonely. That's why several of us hang out in a live chat group where we support each other leading up to surgery and during recovery. There are over 400 people from 50 countries chatting right now and it's free to join.

(example of a recent conversation)

18 Comments

  1. How long does it take to achieve maximum mouth opening after upper and lower jaw surgery?

  2. Thanks for this information. Although i am only day 4 post op i was completely un prepared for the recovery process and feel so annoyed that i feel i was not fully informed and prepared about what lay ahead for me. Right now i have huge regrets and would not recommend this to my worst enemy. Today if had airway swelling only to be made feel its my anxiety.(which i dont normally suffer from). Thank god for prednisone. Im hoping my swelling has peaked today because im not sure how much tighter the side of my check, my ear canal and throat could get. Ive only had lower jaw realignment . I cant possible imagine having had both top and bottom done.

    • Hey, I just had upper and lower jaw surgery on the 16th and I’m now post op day 7. I feel ya, I said the exact same thing about it even wishing my worst enemy to feel the way a person goes through for this surgery. And now we both have to suffer watching others eat and us with our liquid😂😓 but I’m feeling much better now than a week ago and I’m sure you are as well since it’s almost been a month since you got your surgery. Just don’t forget, we are at least suffering together and not alone. Good luck with your recovery and I’m sure your results will be great, I hope mine are too but I wouldn’t know currently with my swollen double chin and cheeks😂

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

    • Stacey Lee Kelly

      February 20, 2017 at 5:59 pm

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

      Stacey

      • Huerafernandez41@yahoo.com

        October 2, 2017 at 3:17 pm

        I got my jaw surgery done Sept 18th and I already went for my first visit he told me to put hot pads on my face for swollen and bruising to go down do you know if that’s a good idea never heard of that but I am going to try it starting today well good luck in your recovery

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

    • Aq2019a@gmail.com

      July 4, 2017 at 8:14 am

      Hi Harry,
      I am at 6 weeks post-op, and I am worried about my upper lip too . Right now , my upper lip seems flip upward when I talk and like catching flies when I rest . I really hope it will get better as time goes by .

    • I noticed that some days my lips seem a bit larger than normal, but I think its because your lips are rubbing against those hooks they put on before surgery. Mine are finally going down…..

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

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

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

      • I feel a bit better reading this. I am 6 months post op and very frustrated at my appearance. I feel like a monkey some days.

        • Allie, talk to your surgeon and orthodontist. I have read that swelling can take up to 1 year before it goes down completely. .Try to continue the face/ jaw exercises – to help . Jaw surgery causes a lot of changes that facial muscles have to adjust to and u have to get use to. Good luck!

        • Me too. I am 4 months post-op from double jaw surgery. I feel like I look like someone from “Planet of the Apes.” I’m starting to wonder if I was over-advanced.

          • Hey Rachel-
            I am feeling your pain!! I had double jaw surgery 2-13-17 so I think we are on the exact same time line…. and I feel EXACTLY the way you do! Like a monster. Same thing, I look like across between planet of the apes and a skeleton . Seemed to look better after a couple of months when the initial swelling went down-in april/may-and then it got worse looking, face started looking more bizarre-sort of like Steven Tyler from Aerosmith but lips not quite that big, lol! Long skinny face, long upper lip, still a lot of numbness in my lips/gums/palate, still don’t have full mobility in my upper lip., like the muscles are stiff. My profile looks good but from the front I look odd and my mouth looks grumpy and shows bottom teeth at rest. And when I smile I look scary/evil like a predator. I used to have a beautiful smile. I had both jaws moved forward 10mm- supposedly- and I wonder if that was too much? I am hoping that the jaws will recede a bit (Dr says they usually do a little) and that whatever upper jaw swelling and around the sides/ base of my nose will continue to go down and my upper lip will shrink up and de-puff. I get my braces off in two days and I’m hoping that will help my mouth not seem so large as the braces have hooks, etc and stick out pretty far. If it doesn’t get better after braces off, I’m going to consult a plastic surgeon about fillers to balance out my facial proportions and bring back some width to mid and lower face. Also, and most importantly, I’m checking into a modified upper lip lift. There are a few plastic surgeons who do a good job with this, which is essential because of the scar location-where nose and lip meet. check out Dr Ben Talei, his scars are almost invisible plus good results and he does alot-cost is 2x as much as here in Atlanta-he’s in Beverly Hills-I think 5k, but worth it . Also there’s a guy in Boston who’s good, can’t remember name. You can look it up on Realself.com. But I hope it all just heals up and returns to normal on its own because I’ve spent enough money on braces that I didn’t need (teeth were straight) plus i had to pay 20% of my surgery because my doc was out of network. I would never go back through the surgery again, so this is my only option. On the bright side, If these issues are tweaked or hopefully improve on their own, I will look amazing-like a supermodel-plus I can actually breathe now, no more sleep apnea, and bite down on all my teeth and jaw pain has improved. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this 6-12 month hell is going to be worth it. Let me know how you progress!!!!

      • How are things now? I am 4 months out from double jaw surgery and I feel like a monster at times. I look like a skeleton/monkey. Face is long and skinny with a long swollen upper lip. It got better between 2-3 months and then between 3-4 months I got worse looking. I also have trouble speaking as my lips are partially numb and my upper lip has limited mobility.

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