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Postop expectations following corrective jaw surgery

Undergoing corrective jaw surgery (called orthognathic surgery) can be a life-changing event for many patients–but it’s important to prepare yourself for the healing process.

Dealing with soreness and discomfort

Most patients want to know how sore they will be following their surgery. While every patient and every case is different, you should expect some swelling and discomfort that can be treated with ice and medication.

Possible side effects include:

  • Bruising
  • Numbness in the cheek, lips and chin
  • Sore throat
  • Oral bleeding
  • Fatigue and grogginess
  • Drooling

Discomfort and side effects will subside quickly as you recover, particularly if you follow your oral surgeon’s postop guidelines. It is recommended to have a friend or family member help look after you for a few days.

Activities to avoid

Jaw surgery is a substantial operation and you should take sufficient time off from work or school to rest. Avoid exercise and all strenuous tasks until your surgeon advises you that it is OK to resume these activities. Abstain from alcohol and tobacco, as these substances can hinder recovery.

Preparing for your postop diet

In most cases, patients will be restricted to a liquid diet immediately following jaw surgery. Slowly, you will be able to introduce soft foods that do not require chewing, and work your way up to crunchy or chewy foods as you heal. It could take several months before you are eating as you were before surgery.

Month-by-month healing

Typically, by the end of the second week after surgery patients should see a significant drop in any side effects. By the end of the month you should be eating easy-to-swallow foods such as applesauce, soups, pudding or mashed potatoes. By the end of the second month, swelling should have completely subsided and you will likely be eating soft foods. One more month and you will be eating more solid foods if they do not cause discomfort when chewing.

Due diligence

The decision to undergo jaw surgery should be a thoughtful process. Be sure that all your questions are answered by your oral surgeon before making a final verdict.