Woman with jaw pain

Understanding Orthognathic Surgery Healing Time: A Comprehensive Guide

A model representing a skull, positioned to show the jaw

Orthognathic surgery, or corrective jaw surgery, can feel like a daunting leap. This includes procedures like chin surgery (genioplasty) to correct a small or deficient chin, often performed in conjunction with jaw surgery.

The anticipation of the procedure, the complexities of recovery, and the unpredictable healing time can cause anxiety. But don’t worry—we’re here to shed light on the process and help you set realistic expectations. At Sunridge Oral Surgery in Calgary, AB, we’re committed to guiding you through every step of your journey towards a healthier, more functional smile.


Picture your jaw as the foundation of a building. Just like a building needs a solid foundation to stand strong, your jaw needs to be properly aligned to ensure the overall health and function of your mouth. Orthognathic surgery is like renovating that foundation to correct any misalignments of the jaw bones.

While the surgery itself is a significant step, understanding the healing time and what it entails is crucial for a smooth recovery.

In this blog, we’ll walk you through the concerns associated with orthognathic surgery healing time, how it varies between patients, and the impacts such as swelling and pain.

1. The Basics of Orthognathic Surgery Healing Time

What to Expect in the Initial Weeks

Healing after orthognathic surgery, particularly involving the lower jaw, begins as soon as the procedure is over. Initially, your body will focus on clot formation and tissue repair, a process that typically takes about six to eight weeks.

During this period, it’s essential to follow your surgeon’s instructions meticulously. At Sunridge Oral Surgery, we provide detailed post-operative care guidelines to ensure you’re on the right path to recovery.

Factors Influencing Healing Time

Healing time can vary significantly among patients due to several factors:

  • Age: Younger patients tend to heal faster than older adults.
  • Overall Health: Those in good general health often experience quicker recovery.
  • Type of Surgery: The extent and complexity of the surgery, such as lower jaw surgery, impact the healing duration.
  • Adherence to Post-Operative Care: Strictly following aftercare instructions can speed up healing.

Practical Tip: Maintain a nutritious diet rich in vitamins and minerals to support the healing process.

Evidence-Based Insight in Maxillofacial Surgery

According to a study published in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, patients who followed a comprehensive post-operative care regimen experienced a 20% faster healing rate compared to those who did not adhere to the guidelines.

2. Managing Swelling After Orthognathic Surgery

Woman managing jaw swelling

The Nature of Swelling

Swelling is a natural response to surgery and is part of the body’s healing process.

he swelling related to the surgery involved typically peaks around the third day post-surgery and gradually subsides over the next few weeks.

While it can be uncomfortable, it is a sign that your body is working to heal itself.

Tips to Reduce Swelling

  • Cold Compresses: Applying cold packs to the affected area during the first 48 hours can help minimize swelling.
  • Elevated Head Position: Keeping your head elevated, especially while sleeping, can reduce fluid accumulation.
  • Hydration: Staying well-hydrated helps flush out toxins and reduce swelling.

Practical Tip: Avoid hot showers and hot beverages immediately after surgery as they can exacerbate swelling.

3. Pain Management and Comfort Strategies

Woman with jaw pain

Understanding Post-Surgical Pain

Pain is another common concern after orthognathic surgery. Pain medication is usually most intense in the first few days and gradually diminishes. Pain management is crucial not only for comfort but also for facilitating a smoother recovery.

Effective Pain Relief Methods and Pain Medication

  • Medications: Your surgeon will prescribe pain medications to manage discomfort. It’s essential to take them as directed.
  • Ice Packs: In addition to reducing swelling, ice packs can help numb the pain.
  • Rest and Relaxation: Allow your body plenty of time to rest and recover. Avoid vigorous activities that could exacerbate pain.

Practical Tip: Incorporate gentle activities such as reading or watching TV to distract yourself from discomfort.

4. Nutrition and Diet: Fueling Your Recovery

Importance of a Post-Surgical Diet

Nutrition plays a pivotal role in the healing process. Consuming the right foods can boost your immune system and accelerate tissue repair.

Immediately after surgery, a soft or liquid diet is recommended to avoid putting stress on your upper and lower jaws.

Recommended Foods and Liquid Diet

  • Smoothies and Shakes: Packed with vitamins and minerals, these are easy to consume and digest.
  • Mashed Vegetables: Nutrient-rich and gentle on your healing jaw.
  • Soups and Broths: Ensure they are not too hot to avoid irritation.

Practical Tip: Avoid hard, crunchy, or chewy foods until your surgeon gives you the green light.

Nutrition Insight

A study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition highlights the benefits of a protein-rich diet in enhancing surgical recovery, emphasizing the role of essential nutrients in promoting tissue healing.

5. Emotional and Psychological Aspects of Recovery

Mans emotional recovery from orthognathic surgery

Coping with the Emotional Impact

Undergoing orthognathic surgery can be emotionally challenging.

The physical changes, especially those involving the upper jaw, combined with the healing process, can affect your mental well-being. It’s essential to address these emotional aspects to ensure a holistic recovery.

Strategies for Emotional Well-Being

  • Stay Connected: Maintain communication with friends and family for emotional support.
  • Seek Professional Help: Consulting a therapist can be beneficial if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
  • Stay Positive: Focus on the long-term benefits of the surgery and the improvement in your quality of life.

Practical Tip: Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as listening to music or practicing mindfulness.

6. Follow-Up Appointments: Key to Successful Healing

Importance of Regular Check-Ups

Scheduled follow-up appointments with your surgeon are crucial for monitoring your progress.

These meetings allow your surgeon to evaluate the healing process, address any concerns, and make necessary changes to your care plan.

What to Expect During Follow-Ups

  • X-Rays and Imaging: To evaluate bone healing and alignment.
  • Physical Examination: Checking for signs of infection or complications.
  • Discussion of Symptoms: Sharing your experiences and symptoms with your surgeon, especially if you have undergone a maxillary osteotomy. Post-surgical management may include addressing post-operative bleeding, nausea, and vomiting (PONV). Your surgeon might discuss the use of systemic and/or local alpha-adrenergic agents to manage these symptoms.

Practical Tip: Keep a diary of your recovery journey, noting any pain, swelling, or other symptoms to discuss during your appointments.

Statistical Evidence

Research in the Journal of Oral Health found that patients who attended all their follow-up appointments had a 30% lower risk of post-surgical complications compared to those who missed appointments.

7. Long-Term Recovery and Lifestyle Adjustments

Family smiling together

Beyond the Initial Healing Phase

Full recovery from orthognathic surgery, including maxillary surgery, can take several months to a year.

During this period, gradual adjustments to your lifestyle and habits will help ensure the longevity of the surgical outcomes.

Long-Term Care Tips

  • Oral Hygiene: Maintain excellent oral hygiene to prevent infections.
  • Regular Exercise: Once cleared by your surgeon, gentle exercises can promote overall health.
  • Healthy Diet: Continue eating a balanced diet to support ongoing recovery.
  • Upper Jaw Surgery Care: Follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions carefully. This includes managing discomfort, swelling, and bruising, taking prescribed medications, and adhering to dietary recommendations to ensure proper healing and jaw movement.

Practical Tip: Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption as they can hinder the healing process.

Supporting Data

A longitudinal study published in the International Journal of Surgery reported that patients who adhered to healthy lifestyle practices post-surgery had better long-term outcomes and higher satisfaction rates, particularly in cases involving the upper teeth.


Orthognathic surgery healing time can vary widely, but with the right care and mindset, you can navigate the recovery process smoothly.

Remember, every patient’s journey is unique, and at Sunridge Oral Surgery, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Embrace the healing process, follow your surgeon’s advice, and look forward to the positive changes this surgery will bring to your life.

At Sunridge Oral Surgery, located in the NE side of Calgary, we’re dedicated to providing top-notch care to all of North Calgary and the surrounding areas.

If you have any questions or need personalized advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced team. We’re here to help you achieve the best possible outcome from your orthognathic surgery.