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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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    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 17 months ago

      I believe it was about 6 weeks.

      I actually was unwired at that point, my mom reminded me that i was, however, I was not able to eat real food which I had thought I would be . It was a gradual thing getting the elastics off which gave me freedom and I thought oh great lets eat. Well no not quite , it takes some time to actually work those mouth muscles again! Only a short time . Even now I gently message my mouth sometimes when it feels tight by using my middle and forefinger and go in circular motions around the cheek area . Also I would slowly open and close my mouth a little bit more each time, start really small and gradually increase .

    • profile image

      Katillac728 17 months ago

      Thank you for responding to my questions..I actually have a few more!

      How long did it take for you to be able to open your mouth again?

      What kind of exercises did you do? My oral surgeon didn't give me any..

    • profile image

      Katillac728 18 months ago

      I have a few questions.

      1. How long were you wired shut, and what did you do to pass the time?

      2. What kind of foods did you eat that were actually good? The only food I've had is soup so I am looking for other ideas.

      3. How long did it take for you to learn how to chew again? Did it hurt?

      4. I go to my oral surgeon once a week so they can take off the rubber bands and clean the splint, and I could only open my mouth up a tiny bit...does that get easier? Is it painful?

      That's all for now..I'm sure i'll think of more! Thanks!

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 18 months ago

      Hi Katillac728! Ask me anything and I'lll try my best to help you out!

    • profile image

      Katillac728 18 months ago

      Hi Emily. I just had my jaw surgery a few days ago and I was wondering if I could contact you and ask some questions if that is ok..thank you!

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      You look great! I am glad it worked out for you.

    • Laura Schneider profile image

      Laura Schneider 4 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      So is everyone else, too!! I found out that the quizzes we put into our articles can be freely linked to by people from other sites -- like YouTube, but on YouTube you get to choose whether this can happen or not; no choice here. I'm contractually obligated to not have my work (of any kind) appear on one very large company's site, so I have to remove both quizzes from the two hubs I used them in. Ironically, by rewriting the content of the quiz into the body capsules--and the answers--it created enough of a change that this poor un-featured hub was re-evaluated and made featured again, and it's got a new lease on life. :-0 Ha--life is so funny. (which reminds me, I've got to do the same to the other article...) So much to do here on HubPages! I could spend all day and enjoy every minute of it.

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 4 years ago from California, United States of America

      No problem, Laura. I hate to see people have their content stolen and jeopardized on the Internet. Glad I could help.

    • Laura Schneider profile image

      Laura Schneider 4 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      Thanks from me, too, Nate! As emilybee says, I wouldn't have known about it without your heads-up. (Doesn't look like my hubs have been stolen--at least none in their "recent" list.)

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 4 years ago from California, United States of America

      No problem. Glad I could help.

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 4 years ago

      Thanks Nate- Wouldn't have known about it without your heads up. Appreciate it!

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 4 years ago from California, United States of America

      Emily, you should check out the forum thread here on HP titled, "Another site stealing our hubs!!" there's information there you will want to see.

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 4 years ago

      Hi Laura - That's too bad about your mom. I was shockingly not fearful beforehand, very much at least. I made myself not think about the worst case scenarios, and consequences. It really helped that I had complete faith in my surgeon, if not I wouldn't have probably had the surgery. Thanks for the compliments and for reading :)

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 4 years ago

      Hi khmohsin - Thanks for the comment. If nothing else I want to be able to help other people prepare. Any surgery to have is intimidating and the more info out here for people will help them have a successful surgery. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Laura Schneider profile image

      Laura Schneider 4 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      Emilybee, what a great article about such a personal subject! My mother had jaw surgery for several problems years ago, and I wish she'd had this article in advance because her outlook on the surgery was and is still poor, though she looks phenomenal and is healthier overall. She still can't feel a large portion of the bottom of her face, but she didn't know about the massaging being helpful, either. I love your positive attitude throughout what really is a horrible ordeal. Great writing, great photos, and best of all great story: and you look sensational! Cheers!

    • profile image

      khmohsin 4 years ago

      Very important and helpful hub for those who are searching this kind of stuff. You did great work emily. People really needs the information like that. I simply wants to appreciate your work. Great Work!

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      Hi Jamie - Thanks, yes my profile is a current picture and you're right - I am very glad I had the surgery. It's true what people say though who had the surgery, so many phases occurred- so swollen after surgery and then I liked how my face looked, and then it changed and now I'm content with it again :) It feels so long ago now. I'm glad I wrote these hubs so I won't forget what I went through. Hope all is well with you, too!

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 5 years ago from Texas

      Emily- I just wanted to come back and re-visit this hub.. Is your profile pic a new current picture of you? You are looking gorgeous!! I bet as time is passing by that you are more and more grateful that you had the surgery. Hope all is well :)

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      Hi UMHiram: Thanks for visiting my hub. I agree, this hub should be helpful for people experiencing surgery like I had. It's also nice for me to be able to go back and reread all that I went through. Thanks for the comment!

    • UMHiram profile image

      Unique Hiram 5 years ago from Midwest


      This is a very interesting Hub and useful for the people who might have to go through this type of surgery. Voted up!


    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      Hi Laura ! Thanks for the nice compliment. Jaw surgery or any surgery, needs lot of preparation and I wanted this hub to be helpful and inform potential jaw surgery patients on what to expect. It's too bad your mom hates her looks after the surgery; I think for most people after surgery it just takes a little bit of getting used to. For me, being able to actually close my mouth and not having it hang open all the time is refreshing. Thanks for the comment and votes!

    • Laura Schneider profile image

      Laura Schneider 5 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      Wow, what an excellent article! This is fantastic. You objectively and in appropriate detail described a procedure that was probably traumatic for you at all levels. (My mom had her jaw broken in 4 places and re-aligned years ago and hates how she looks, so it's still traumatic for her.) Thanks for sharing your objective views!! (Voted up, interesting, etc.)

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      Hi Pamela - For me, I did everything possible to avoid using the scissors and fortunately never needed to! That meant not eating if my stomach felt upset so I definitely paid strict attention to how my body was feeling. It was the most scary leaving the hospital after surgery because the nausea was so bad! Luckily no incidents took place :) It does seem a lot of people have jaw related issues, thank you for informing me of one reason some people have jaw pain, I wasn't entirely aware of that. Luckily though there are lots of different things that can help it now, not just surgery, but physical therapy and other alternative means. As for choking after I was wired shut, sometimes I would cough and feel like I couldn't fully cough because of the wires and start to feel claustrophobic and began to choke, then I told myself each time, ok, I'm not going to die, just relax, and it seriously worked. It calmed me right down :) Thanks for much for stopping by to read this hub!

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 5 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      You have been through so much! For some people, me included, jaw pain can be from infected root canals with very high counts of bacteria which have seeped in and built up in the dentin. So although the reason for my jaw pain is different than yours -- and my route to recovery will be different -- I was very interested when I saw the title to this hub. I found the whole hub quite riveting. The part about keeping one's surgical scissors nearby -- whoa. That would be so scary to be in the condition you were in and know you could begin to choke with your jaw wired shut. I'm not that brave. I won't ever be having jaw surgery. (Knock on wood)

      Voting up, useful and interesting.

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      Hi Daughter of Maat- It seems this procedure is becomingly increasingly more popular lately and most definitely an easier procedure to have as new technologies are constantly being created. I hope I can help some people lessen their worries when planning for jaw surgery. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image

      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Great hub! Well organized and has everything you need to know. One of my co-workers had this done, she showed me a video of it before she had the procedure. Unfortunately, we lost contact after I quit working there so I don't know how she faired. Congrats on getting through it!!

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      Hi Felina! Thanks for stopping by and reading my hub! Jaw surgery was a serious procedure but definitely well-worth it!

    • Felina Margetty profile image

      Felina Margetty 5 years ago from New York, New York


    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      Hi aethelthryth- I hear you, for me the first few days of Ensure drinks and tomato soup got old real fast. After that I blended up everything in the fridge I could find from pizza to cheeseburgers, and they all tasted great. That is very considerate of you to have consumed the same meals as your relative having jaw surgery! My family continued to eat delicious foods i.e chinese food and while I could blend some, such as wonton soup, other blended meals just don't blend up all that nicely :) I did have my family at least try all of my blended creations and I think they'd admit they weren't too bad. Thank you for commenting, and I hope your jaw surgery relative has recovered well!

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      Hello always exploring! When I first heard from my orthodontist the option of surgery I immediately ruled it out in my mind, I was petrified of the thought. Somehow with lots of research, one year later laying on the surgery table, ready to have my jaws broken, I was unbelievably relaxed because I was completely confident in my surgeon and so excited to have my jaws line up properly. I just had to think positive and fortunately everything worked out great. Thank you, yes, I am doing great now and am very happy with the results :) Preparation is the main key element and I hope others benefit by reading lots of info available on the net. Thanks for commenting!

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      Sunshine- It takes some bravery to have any surgery so I suppose you're right ;) But it had to be done and I wish the best of luck to your daughter! She will do great, there is tons of info available on the net so just read up and be prepared. It's a rather common procedure nowadays, I've run into a few people (in real life ;)) that are planning this surgery, too. Thanks for reading and commenting :)

    • aethelthryth profile image

      aethelthryth 5 years ago from American Southwest

      The long-term result of jaw surgery I have experienced as a relative of someone who went through it is - eating patterns of the whole family are affected because after eating nothing but soup while recovering, the person now can't stand soup!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      The surgery appears frightful. Your article is very interesting, the pictures really added to the hub. Thank you for sharing. I hope all is well now...

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      My daughter is going to have this procedure done one day for her underbite. I'll share this info with her. Thank you for sharing. You are a brave woman!