When it comes to undergoing jaw surgery, one of the main questions on a patient's’ mind is what will the healing and recovery experience be like. It’s only natural to wonder how long you’ll need to be away from work or school, how much discomfort you may experience as you heal, and how long it’ll be until you’re back on your feet and feeling like yourself again.
For the most part, predicting the healing and recovery time following jaw surgery is best done on a case-by-case basis, and will vary broadly depending upon the individual patient. Having said that, here are general answers to the most common questions we get about the recovery following corrective jaw surgery.
What to Expect Following Corrective Jaw Surgery
How Long Will I Be in the Hospital?
The length of your hospital stay will depend upon the type of jaw surgery you have undergone, your level of pain tolerance, and also how quickly you heal. Once you no longer have any need for on-demand pain relief, you’ll be fit to be discharged from the hospital. This typically happens after 2-3 days for adults, and usually overnight for teenagers.
How Much Pain Will I be in?
It might seem difficult to believe, but you should experience little in terms of pain following jaw surgery. There may be some discomfort due to your jaw being positioned in a way it isn't used to, but pain will be minimal.
Prior to surgery, you will be given a prescription for all of the medications you will require throughout your post-surgery recovery. It’s advisable that you have these prescriptions filled prior to undergoing surgery, so that everything is ready for you when you return home. These medications will control swelling and help to minimise any discomfort.
In addition to the medication prescribed to you following jaw surgery, your nerves will be slightly bruised, which means they will feel little to no pain. By the time your nerves return to normal, the healing process will be well underway and any discomfort should have passed.
How Much Swelling Will I Experience?
Once you return home, you will likely experience swelling for the first two weeks following surgery. In some cases, slight swelling can continue for a few months until the jaw is completely healed.
How Long Will it Take for my Jaw to Heal?
It will take roughly 3 months for your jawbones to recover and heal completely.
What Will I be Able to Eat Following Jaw Surgery?
Immediately following your surgery, you will be restricted to a 100% dairy-free, liquid diet. Dairy-free protein shakes and homemade fruit smoothies will be all that is on the menu for the first 10 days after you undergo surgery. For most patients, smoothies will need to be administered with a syringe, as chewing will not be allowed for initial healing period.
It will be up to your surgeon to let you know when you will be able to start chewing again. Once you’ve been given the go ahead, you can begin eating soft foods like pasta or mashed potatoes. It will be sometime before your diet can return to normal. Your progress in this area will depend upon how quickly your body is able to heal.
There are also a few things we want you to pay special attention to following surgery. It is extremely important that you stay hydrated after undergoing jaw surgery. Be sure that you are drinking enough water. Additionally, ensure that you are ingesting an adequate amount of fibre during your recovery time. Both hydration and fibre intake are imperative to keep your digestive system running smoothly.
When Can I Return to Work or School?
This depends on the type of surgery you have and what your occupation is. Those that work in a labour intensive job will need more time off than those who work behind a desk.
Someone who is in the public eye may be feeling OK to attend work but may require more time off due to the appearance of some bruising/swelling which is not acceptable to their position.
Anyone in a position where they are at risk of suffering contact to the the head region should also delay going back to work until given the go ahead by the surgeon.
For more information about what to expect following corrective jaw surgery, and to learn more about the post-op healing and recovery time, download our free ebook where you’ll find everything you need to know about jaw surgery and answers to all of your surgery-related questions.
‘Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.’