Recovery Tips

Following is a summary of the most important things I learned during my recovery from double jaw surgery.

  • Drink lots of prune juice and water. Your toilet time will be far from enjoyable for the first couple of weeks because you’re likely to be severely dehydrated. The prune juice will provide your body with the fiber it needs to work those bowels properly, but fiber is useless without water because it won’t dissolve in your body. I recommend a bare minimum of 1 L of water per day. Drink 2 L per day as soon as you can.
  • Before you attempt to pull any dead skin off of your lips, be absolutely certain that it’s not a stitch. I learned this the hard way.
  • Start using medicated lip balm immediately following your return to your own home. If you don’t, you’ll end up with flaps of dead skin that are half an inch in diameter, and I promise you they won’t feel good when they catch on your braces.
  • Apply heat to your face 3-4 times per day for the first 5-6 weeks to help with the swelling. The heat will also help you fall asleep.
  • Begin each day at a decent time. If you sleep most of the day, you won’t be able to sleep at night, and you’ll hate yourself for it. Get out of bed, shower, eat some breakfast and brush your teeth and you’ll enjoy each day a lot more. (This is good advice for any day of your life, but it especially applies when you’re on the verge of depression from having jaw surgery.)
  • Go to bed on time. Yawning will cause you quite a bit of pain, so prevent it by getting the right amount of sleep during the proper hours.
  • As soon as you’re able to talk clearly enough for friends and family to understand you, call people and be social. Go outside and enjoy nature. Whatever you do, ensure you don’t fall into a trap ofย lonelinessย and self-pity.
  • Start drinking from a cup as soon as you’re physically able to. Your upwards trek back to having full energy begins the day you can throw your syringes in the garbage.
  • Eat solid food as soon as your surgeon gives you the go-ahead. It’ll be a slow, tedious and frustrating process, but you need to go through with it in order to build your jaw muscles back up and learn how to chew properly once again.
  • It may take some time to get used to your new smile and your newly structured face. Don’t be ashamed of yourself. You don’t look funny at all. You’re simply not used to looking like you’re supposed to.
  • And lastly, don’t worry about your looks, bite or facial feeling for at least 6 months. You may have an open bite, but you’ll wake up one morning and your teeth will have migrated back together. You may be completely numb, but feeling will return almost overnight.

If you have any questions about the recovery process, or perhaps have other pointers to share with upcoming jaw surgery patients, feel free to jot them down in the comments.

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 before the surgery and during the recovery. There are over 75 people from 20 countries chatting right now and it's free to join.

(example of a recent conversation)


  1. Hi Graham,

    I am now over 8 months post-op. Recently, I started noticing that my left jaw is getting stiff and my ear is irritated. When I am ready to eat, I have to stretch it a little before it will open up enough to eat (especially burgers). Did you have this type of issue this far from surgery?

    I still haven’t gotten all of my feeling back above my lip and in my chin. Since I still haven’t gotten my braces off, I won’t see my surgeon again for at least a couple months. I’m wondering if this is normal, or if I should try to make an earlier appointment.


    • Good to hear from you again, Alta!

      1) I did not experience any stiffness or irritation that many months after surgery. The only thing I can think of that would cause irritation would be a reaction to the screws in your jaw, but I think you would have noticed that already. It’s possible this is something unrelated to jaw surgery, but I recommend calling your surgeon’s office and asking what might cause this.

      2) If you haven’t received all of your feeling back, it’s possible you may be one of the unlucky few who are left with small patches of permanent nerve damage. I am also in that camp and have a few small numb patches in my lower lip and chin. As far as I understand, there’s really nothing your surgeon can do to aid this, as most nerve damage just takes time to heal. On the bright side, your brain should eventually adjust to the loss of feeling, at which point you should stop noticing it on a daily basis. Personally, I only remember I have these numb spots when people ask about them.

      Sorry I don’t have any definite answers to your questions. I hope this helps somewhat. ๐Ÿ˜Š

      • Thanks Graham,

        I knew it was a longshot, but I thought I would just check in case you had the same experience. The stiffness just returned a couple weeks ago, but I definitely do not want it continue. As far as the numbness, I kind of thought I had nerve damage after the first month. I’ve tried to be patient and to think positive, but the numbness has not really decreased in the last 7 months. The numbness doesn’t bother me too much. The main problem has been the stiffness and I still have problems eating some foods without being messy.

        Anyway, I will check with my surgeon to see what he thinks. Thanks again.


  2. My husband just had double jaw surgery and had all wisdom teeth removed. He’s having such a hard time breathing bc hrs so congested and isn’t allowed to blow his nose. ๐Ÿ™

    • Watchna, I also had all of my wisdom teeth removed, but it was a separate procedure several months before surgery. I’ve never heard of a surgeon removing wisdom teeth during jaw surgery, but I suppose it can happen.

      What your husband is experiencing sounds quite normal, despite being frustrating to observe. To help with his congestion, I recommend buying any lotion with menthol in it and rubbing that under his nose a few times each day. Even though he’s not allowed to blow his nose, the menthol should still help clear some of that congestion. ๐Ÿ˜Š

      • Thanks for the response! He’s post-op day 3 today. I didn’t know lotion came with menthol. I know vapor rub has menthol in it.

  3. I’m getting double jaw too. I was wondering do you still have the metal plates in your mouth. I worry years later it might get infected.

    • Katherine, I still have all of the plates and screws in my face and they do not cause me any problems. Some people do end up with infections, but such problems generally appear within months rather than years, so you can have a minor follow-up surgery to remove them if need be. Be encouraged that this is rare and most people have no issues with the plates. ๐Ÿ˜Š

      • Ok sometimes I do worry about years that I can’t do certain things after surgery like go on a roller coaster or play sports.

  4. Hi I had double jaw surgery 26 days ago so I was wondering how long before the swelling goes down?

    • Sam, you should notice the majority of swelling disappearing during the second month of recovery. Keep in mind that if you’re speaking a lot, swelling may take longer to go away. This is primarily a game of patience, so hang in there. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  5. Hey Graham,

    I wanted to say thank you so much for all of your tips and posts. I am 21 years old, 4 weeks post-op from double jaw surgery and being able to read your posts each day has really helped. My splint comes off Wednesday morning and I feel it’s the next big step in this journey. While I have adjusted to the liquid diet pretty well I do day dream about biting into a burger and picked up on something you brought up in your first few posts. TV commercials are like 70% food and it is TORTURE. Being at college also doesn’t help, late this past Friday night I had the brilliant idea of blending pizza in a Magic Bullet… let’s just say my housemates probably got more enjoyment out of that than I did.

    I was wondering if you felt that heating at this stage would still be of any value? I had a skinny face and I still have people pointing out the swelling under my eyes/ to each side of my nose rather than my new jaw, some people even ask if I just had my wisdom teeth out ๐Ÿ˜’. I look forward to following along with the rest of your recovery! I’m glad to hear you found the surgery was worth it in the end (yes I read ahead I could not resist), which gives me hope!


    • Anthony, thanks for reaching out! It’s surprising how much of day-to-day life you feel you’re missing out on when you’re unable to eat solid food, isn’t it? I guess we should be extra thankful that we have our teeth!

      Your blended pizza story made me laugh. My worst food decision during recovery was blending liver and onions in the Magic Bullet. Try not to think about it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I’m not sure if applying heat to your face will help reduce swelling at this point, but it should still provide some relief if you’re feeling any pain or throbbing sensations. While I do not understand the underlying medical facts about swelling, I recall patience being the best strategy for it. Remember that you are still quite early in your recovery and you’ll notice a big change in your energy, comfort, and desire to actually live life again within the next two weeks.

      I hope this helps man. Hang in there!

  6. Hello everyone,

    My name is Natalie, I’m 20 years old and I am at 7 weeks post-op from double jaw surgery with 2 lower wisdom teeth extractions.

    Things have gotten way better than that horrible first week post-op, but I am still pretty swollen. I know that everyone is different and heals differently, but it really gets to me now that I’ve started school and work again. Sometimes it feels like it’s never going to go away, but I try to steer away from those thoughts.

    I’m able to eat more than purreed food which is great, but I still have those days where I get really low and frustrated and just want this healing process over with. I am still having trouble opening my mouth widely. I definitely can’t fit a burger in there yet. I also still have random pain on my face here and there. Does anyone else this far along in recovery deal with that?

    Unfortunately, I got an infection due to an empty space where I had my wisdom teeth removed on my lower left side. My doctor reassured me it wasn’t my fault because I brush my teeth like 10 times a day. I’m hoping my infection has gone away by my next appointment. If it hasn’t, that means the infection is on the metal plates in my mouth and I will have to go back and get it removed in a couple months which sounds like soooo much fun! NOT.

    I can say it’s been a long journey and it has yet to end, but the results are great so that’s what keeps me going.

    • Natalie, when I was at the 7-week mark, I was just about to have my splint removed. I still wasn’t able to eat any solid food and still experienced painful spasms randomly throughout the day.

      So be encouraged that you are still on track to being fully recovered in just over a month. Swelling really dissipates during the final month of recovery and the movement in your jaw should return more quickly once you have the strength to begin eating more solid food.

      I hope the infection you had is gone and that you’re able to remain hopeful and look forward to that 3-month mark! ๐Ÿ˜Š

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