Immediately after Surgery
When you first wake up in the recovery room you will become aware of certain things. First, your jaw will be held together with elastics. Sometimes this can cause some anxiety for patients. You are in no danger. Try not to open your jaws against the elastics. Your head will often be wrapped in a cold ice pack. You will experience some nasal stiffness and feel like you have a sore throat for a few days. This is very common and will resolve in a few days.
In-Hospital Stay (If applicable)
During your stay in the hospital, you will be under the care of nurses who are very well trained and experienced in handling orthognathic surgery patients. At the hospital bedside, there will be a suction apparatus to suction out your mouth. Your head will be elevated with the ice pack in place. This will help decrease the swelling.
You can begin to drink clear fluids after the nasal tube is removed. It may be challenging because in addition to the swelling, you lips will feel numb. The nursing staff will assist you in drinking. It is important to try and drink early. You should aim to have about 2-3 liters of fluid intake per day.
All patients feel discomfort or pain after an operation, although the level of pain varies from patient to patient. Take your pain medications as directed. When you go home, it is important that a friend or relative spends the first night with you. You will be able to shower on the second day after surgery. You must avoid hot, prolonged showers which may cause bleeding in the upper jaw if surgery is performed there and can cause light headaches.
Avoid exercises, lifting anything over 20 lbs or activity that raises your blood pressure or pulse for at least one month after the surgery. The blood vessels are still healing from the surgery and any increase in activity may cause bleeding. You may begin gentle exercise, such as walking on a treadmill, after 2 weeks, but do not do any cardio for 4-6 weeks after the surgery.
Do not drive a vehicle or perform any task that requires coordination or judgment for at least 48 hours following your anesthetic and/or if you are still using pain medication.
It is not uncommon to have minor oozing from the surgical sites in the mouth. If you have had upper jaw surgery, you may also notice blood coming out from your nose when you lean your head forward or backward. You may continue to experience bleeding or oozing approximately 7-10 days after the surgery. However, please call your surgeon if there is excessive or active bleeding, or if you have any concerns.
The swelling is perhaps the greatest post-operative event of your jaw surgery, and will vary from patient to patient. You can anticipate a large degree of swelling over your cheek area as well as down into your neck. The swelling is maximal at day 4 and will slowly subside after 2 weeks. There is a possibility of some swelling that can last up to 2-3 months after surgery. You will be given medications during the surgery and immediately after to help settle down some of the swelling, on day 3, there is very little that can be done to eliminate it.
You should place ice on your face while you are awake for the first 3 to 4 days. The ice will also have a numbing effect that will reduce any post-operativesensitivity. You must be careful not to apply ice directly on the skin, as it may cause burns. After day 4, a warm water bottle is then recommended to help reduce swelling.
Nausea and Vomiting
It is not uncommon to have some nausea and vomiting after surgery, especially in the first 24 hours. Importantly, this is not a life-threatening situation, even if your jaws are wired shut. Jaws are rarely wired shut. We will let you know if this pertains to you.
Remain calm, and turn your head to the side so that any fluids pass freely. Rinse your mouth afterwards. Most people will usually feel better after vomiting, and find that the nausea passes.
If nausea and vomiting persist, please contact your surgeon.
You will typically be prescribed an antibiotic, pain medication, and mouth rinse after surgery. Use them as instructed on the bottle.
It is very important to follow a proper diet plan after surgery, as your body will be healing and will need nutrition and calories. Nevertheless, it is not unusual to lose 5-10 lbs after surgery.