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Jaw Surgery Before and After

Updated on December 29, 2013

If you are considering jaw surgery, some research should be conducted to ensure a smooth surgical experience and recovery period. Reasons for jaw surgery are greater than cosmetic. Problems such as difficulty eating and chewing food, closing your mouth, or chronic jaw pain can be deciding factors when considering jaw surgery.

Consider your personal reasons for jaw surgery and what you're looking for in the final result. Surgery is done as a last resort, so make sure to first research and discuss other options.

Make the decision that will be in your best interest. Read further to find out how to prepare for jaw surgery. This hub also includes what to expect after jaw surgery in terms of recovery and common results.

This was me before jaw surgery for correction of my 10mm overbite.
This was me before jaw surgery for correction of my 10mm overbite. | Source

Part 1: Choosing Jaw Surgery

Do lots of research.

For prospective jaw surgery patients, research the procedure to be performed on you.

  • Use the internet to search for queries related to jaw surgery.
  • Inform yourself by reading up on other jaw surgery patient's surgical experiences.
  • Weigh the positives and negatives and the reasons for contemplating this intricate surgery.
  • Understand that there are risks involved (but do the pros outweigh these risks?)

Part 2: Preparing for Jaw Surgery

Get your orthodontics in place.

Prepare to be in orthodontic braces before surgery, and after surgery. Braces are needed to be in place during surgery to aid in the temporary wiring of your jaws being shut. There usually isn't any way around this, braces is a mandatory step in the surgical procedure.

  • Understand that in many cases, this surgery is needed due to the patients age in that they are fully grown, or other reason where simply braces will not correct the problem.
  • Use your orthodontist as a reference to get names of qualified surgeons.
  • If you don't yet have an orthodontist, use your dentist as a reference to get a qualified orthodontist.

Find a qualified surgeon.

When the time comes to find a maxillofacial surgeon, keep some things in mind.

  • Do your research thoroughly.
  • Find a surgeon who completes this surgery on a fairly regular basis (not only a few a year!), and specializes in this field.
  • Attempt to find a surgeon you feel comfortable with. You will be spending a good eight hours on the operating table solely in this persons hands, and it will be helpful to trust the decisions being made and the care being provided to you.
  • Choose a hospital or medical center that fits your needs, and your personality. Perhaps a low key atmosphere may relax you more than a hospital in the middle of a large city.

Grocery shop for recovery essentials.

When preparing for corrective jaw surgery, it is smart to prepare by stocking up on a few essential items.

  • Fill the fridge with protein drinks such as Boost and Ensure, and different varieties of soup.
  • Obtain or borrow a blender. You will initially be blending all foods that are thicker than water.
  • Gather your materials. You may need a syringe (hospitals generally provide them) to assist you in placing liquids into your mouth properly.
  • A baby spoon, baby toothbrush and sippy cup can be helpful.
  • Ice packs (hospitals usually provide some) and later heat packs are recommended for use at home immediately upon return from the hospital.
  • Find some tasty recipes to try to jot down all ingredients. Be specific, as family members probably will be preparing these meals for you at the beginning.

Pack a bag for your hospital stay.

Pack a bag filled with necessary items to have with you for your hospital stay.

You should bring with you:

  • Button up pajamas for after surgery. Your head will be quite large and wrapped in bandages, so bring clothing that will be easy to put on.
  • Toothbrush, but you probably won't use it.
  • Deodorant and personal care products if you want to feel more comfortable, but don't feel pressured as this isn't a beauty pageant but a serious surgery.
  • A laptop or book. You will be in pain for a while, but you will want something to occupy your time once you get antsy.
  • A notepad and pen. Verbal communication after surgery is very difficult, and written communication is a great way to help get your needs expressed.

A photo of me right before double jaw surgery.
A photo of me right before double jaw surgery. | Source

Part 3: Recovery from Surgery

Things to expect the day of surgery.

The day of surgery will be a bit stressful, but just remember that after the surgery is complete you will be well on your way to recovery.

  • The morning of surgery you should expect to arrive very early to the hospital.
  • You'll feel hungry. Varying on your circumstances, food is generally prohibited after 7pm the night before.
  • Expect to get blood taken and women-pregnancy tests, too. You will be visited by the anesthesiologist team, your surgeon and nurses. Final questions will be answered and a quick recap on what to expect in regards to swelling and difficulty breathing upon waking up will be reiterated.
  • Generally mild relaxation medications (sometimes termed cocktails) are delivered to patients to aid in pre-surgery anxiety.

This was me, one day after surgery.
This was me, one day after surgery. | Source

Things to expect upon waking after surgery.

Immediately upon waking up from surgery, you will be in a general state of confusion. By knowing what to expect, you will not be so fretful when unable to speak upon waking up.

  • You'll be very swollen, and you probably won't realize this, yet.
  • You initially might not remember much about your current state and you most definitely won't remember anything that took place during the surgery (which is a good thing).
  • You'll eventually comprehend your inability to talk, and that your jaws are wired shut, but may not realize this immediately upon waking up.
  • You won't want to drink (or eat) anything besides small sip of water to start.
  • You will experience trouble breathing and will have an itchy throat (from the breathing tube).
  • You may have small traces of blood perhaps coming from the nose or mouth areas, that should stop within a few hours.
  • You may vomit, so cross your fingers in hopes that you don't, but be prepared for the worst.

This is a picture of myself with my surgical scissors around my neck.
This is a picture of myself with my surgical scissors around my neck. | Source

How to endure the first few days after surgery.

After surgery, you will experience some discomfort in regards to sleeping for the next few nights.

  • Keep you surgical scissors with you everywhere you go! They will probably be tied loosely around your neck, and as a precautionary measure, make sure to know their whereabouts always. You would not want to start choking, or vomiting, and have no way of opening your jaws.
  • For the ride home, keep a small bucket (for spontaneous post-surgery sickness) and your scissors handy.
  • Upon arriving home, set up camp somewhere comfy. Hopefully a nice recliner has been designated for you to use.
  • Relax and let your family wait on you. Enjoy these first few days and then get up! As soon as you feel comfortable doing so, go for very small walks outside. If you cannot muster the strength, just go outside and sit in the shade. Avoid direct sunlight post-surgery and wear a large sunhat if need be.

What to expect in the first months following surgery.

By one month post-operative, you should be recovering very nicely, but may feel extraordinarily bored. You may consider returning to work, or you may have already returned, depending on how well you are healing and recovering.

Keep in mind these things:

  • Don't rush back to work before your body is ready. Your mind may be bored, but your body can get injured if you rush it back to doing repetitive actions after resting for such a long time, (this is why exercise and short walks are crucially important).
  • Do lots of mouth exercises that your surgeon suggests to you to help improve your ability to open your mouth again. It will be quite difficult and the opening will be small at the beginning!
  • Continue the use of ice or most likely heat to add in stiffness and allow the mouth, and any other muscles such as the back (from hours of motionless laying on the operating table) to recover.
  • Understand that recovery is very progressive but can take some time to regain strength and the ability for your jaw to assume its new position and open wide again.
  • You will be continuing to see your surgeon for at least six weeks, at week long intervals, and then every month, and eventually to every two months, and then not at all.
  • Some tightness and/or numbness in your face may never go away - but frequent massage helps make this less of a possibility.
  • Your braces will still be on for approximately one year (more or less) after surgery.

Recovery is gradual.

Understand that recovery from jaw surgery will take a significant amount of time. This is worth it to most patients who realize that the end result is worth waiting for. Don't jump to conclusions on how you look, because your face will be readily changing (reducing in size due to swelling). At about the six month mark you will begin to look normal.

Final thoughts when deciding if surgery is right for you.

When deciding to have surgery, consider all your options - and if going forward, plan accordingly.

Think positive and don't judge yourself too critically.

Your physical appearance throughout your healing process is not permanent, and will be changing a lot in the following weeks and months. Your mouth will not resemble its final image until a good five months afterwards.

Good luck in your future surgery endeavors, and be sure to check out my other jaw surgery hubs on topics relevant to a jaw surgery diet and jaw surgery procedure.

© 2012 emilybee


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