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 ofΒ lonelinessΒ 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.

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31 Comments

  1. Katherine Cunningham

    May 31, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    I had surgery this morning and my nose is bleeding on one side. Is this normal? Did anyone else have this issue?

    • Hey, I’m currently day 13 post op and I can promise you that a nose bleed is normal. I’ve only just been able to breathe out my nose properly because of the bleeding. I hope you’re recovery is going well… I’m pretty fed up now but hoping it will all be worth it! Take care x

  2. juan escarcega

    May 19, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    i had my surgery 2 days ago and all my rubber bands are not holding some already went into small pieces they are ripping , i called my doctor but its his day should i go to the hospital ?

  3. Hi…
    Im appox 23 days post op double jaw surgery….I was wondering when I should be able to open my mouth wider than 1 finger??

  4. Hi Graham! Happy New Year!!

    My Daughter is having double jaw surgery in 2 weeks and I am getting very nervous, (she is exited). I will like to know if you any recipes of shakes (smoothies) that she can drink during the recovery process to help with the swelling, keep her hydrated, etc.

    Thanks!
    Erika

  5. Hi had my operation Tuesday and the drooling is driving me insane has anyone else experience this and knows when it will go?

    • Jay, drooling for the first 3 weeks following surgery is normal and expected. I found the only way to combat this was to carry either a cloth or paper towel with me and wipe the drool away often. Sorry for the frustrations, but I assure you the drooling will stop soon! 😊

  6. Hi,

    I have just had (7th November) the first of my surgeries – Condylar Shave and am waiting to see my surgeon on the 18th for stiches out. The next step is braces for 2 – 2 and 1/2 years – then the double jaw surgery. I am getting really nervous about the 2nd surgery and really starting to doubt whether to go through with it…

    The reason for this is that I suffered with a WHOLE heap of pain for the first 5-6 days that paracetamol and ibuprofen (couldn’t open jaw enough for tablet versions) just couldn’t really help with. I can’t take; morphine (violently sick), Codeine (violently sick and horrendous stomach cramps) and the hospital realised I can’t tolerate Fentanyl after I reacted badly to it – greatly decreased breaths per minute (6bpm).

    What drugs were you prescribed with to manage the pain with your double jaw surgery as from your blogs – I doubt I could get away with just paracetamol and ibuprofen.

    Any help/advice hugely appreciated
    Jo xx

    • Jo, sorry to hear about the pain you’re experiencing, that’s frustrating. You can see the list of medications I was on following jaw surgery here. I only had codeine for pain.

      One difference between your first operation and the actual jaw surgery is that jaw surgery will leave your face almost completely numb for the first month, so you shouldn’t feel too much pain from it. It is invasive, of course, but since you are numb, you simply don’t feel the full amount of pain.

      That being said, the experience is a bit different for each person. I recommend joining the chat group and asking the nice people in there. There are dozens of people who are currently in recovery in the chat group, so they may have more up-to-date information than I have when it comes to painkillers.

      Hope this helps! 😊

      • Hi Graham,

        Thank you very much – I was really starting to panic about this and wasn’t sure what to do. I have just seen my surgeon quickly today for stiches out (WOOHOOO!!!) and feeling more positive as have been able to wash my hair (sounds stupid). I have an appointment with him for a weeks time so can discuss this better with him then.
        Jo

        • Good to hear, Jo! Finding joy in being able to do things like brush your teeth and wash your hair sounds funny, but I assure you I completely understand. πŸ˜„

  7. Hi Graham,

    My surgery will be on next week. And i started to feel nervous and worry about it.

    It seem like the recovery is taking time. But the doctor only gave me 2 weeks mc, means I have to go back for work after 2 weeks of surgery.

    Do you think this is possible for me to carry out my work smoothly?

    And will the swelling of the face being reduced after 2 weeks?

    Will everyone have the sore throat and feel painful after surgery?

    Thanks for your reply.

    • Yong, if you’re required to speak at your job, I recommend taking at least 3 weeks away from work. I returned to my job after 2 weeks but was unable to speak clearly and still did not have enough energy to last through the day. In any case, hopefully your employer understands if you need an additional week to recover.

      You will be quite swollen for almost 2 months, but this should not keep you from working. Swelling is a normal part of the recovery and will go away eventually. You should also not experience much pain after surgery because your surgeon will give you medicine for it.

      Overall, I encourage you to remain positive. This surgery will take about 3 months to recover from, but you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits for the rest of your life. Good luck next week! 😊

      • Thanks so much for your reply! πŸ™‚

        Yes, my work is also required me to talk.
        Okay, then i will try to communicate with my boss regarding my leave..

        Oh no, i thought the swelling of face will take only two weeks to go away πŸ™

        Okay, no matter how hard it is, I will try to be positive throughout my recovery process.
        And i do hope this surgery can really bring me to a better future life.

        Thanks again for your encouragement!

        Wish you all the best in your life as well! πŸ˜‰

  8. Finally, I have found some helpful advice!
    I am 22 years old and 4 weeks post op – double jaw surgery for an underbite. I found the recovery ok, nowhere near as bad as I was expecting it to be. Four weeks on and the only thing that’s bothering me is that my lips don’t close together. There’s still some swelling on my cheeks and my top lip but I’m so scared that i’ll never get my lips to close with it being forced/uncomfortable. Also I am worried about my speech as it is still very unclear. I have an appointment with my surgeon to discuss my concerns in a couple of weeks time. Now I am wondering whether this long process was worth it. I’m more self-conscious now than I was before I had it done, at least you’ve given me some hope so thank you.

    • Lucy, it is perfectly normal for your lips to not touch and your speech to be unclear at this point. Remember that you are only 1/3 of the way to a full recovery, so there is still a lot of healing left for your body to do. Personally, my speech did not return until almost the 2-month mark and my lips did not fully close until around 6 weeks after surgery, so you are still well within that time period. Try to stay positive and have patience and the healing will come! 😊

  9. 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.

    Thanks,
    Alta

    • 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. 😊

      • 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.

        Alta

  10. 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. πŸ™

    • 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. 😊

      • 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.

  11. 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. 😊

      • 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.

  12. 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. 😊

  13. 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 πŸ˜’. 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!

    Best,
    Anthony

    • 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. πŸ˜‰

      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!

  14. 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! 😊

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