PAIN: The amount of pain and discomfort experienced by patients after orthognathic surgery varies case by case. Pain medications will often consist of a narcotic medication in an elixir and may switch to an anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen as needed; these may also be taken together if discomfort exceeds the ability of the narcotic to control pain. Patients are advised to use the narcotic only as needed, which is typically 1-2 weeks.
SWELLING: Post-operative swelling causes most of the discomfort an orthognathic patient feels after their surgery. The amount of swelling each patient has is variable to patient to patient. As with most surgeries, you should expect swelling and discomfort to peak around 48 hours after surgery. To help with this discomfort, a large dose of IV steroids are administered to control swelling of the face and neck region and a steroid cream is applied to counteract swelling of the lips. A pressure dressing is applied to the face directly following the procedure and can be removed after the first night; it should not be worn more than 48 hours after the procedure.
BLEEDING: Many patients will exhibit intermittent oozing from the incisions for up to one week after surgery. Rinsing with warm salt water helps cleanse the area and keep it clean as well as rids the mouth of any undesirable tastes. Patients that have had upper jaw surgery will often experience an intermittent bloody nose for several days after surgery. These patients may also notice blood clots draining from their sinuses for several weeks after as well. Patients with stuffy sinuses or congestion can use a humidifier, saline nasal spray and a decongestant to help maintain clear passageways. Gauze or cotton packs can be placed in the nose to help control the drainage. If you experience excessive bleeding, please call our office. (801-566-5117)
DIET: For most orthognathic surgery patients, we ask you to refrain from any food requiring chewing for 6 weeks. This includes any food that cannot be easily broken with a fork. It is very common for patients to lose weight after surgery due to this strict liquid diet. To keep your strength and energy up for the healing process, you will likely need to eat multiple small meals throughout the day. It is also very important for the healing process that you drink plenty of fluid. We have several recipes to help you vary your food options during this time, if interested.
ELASTICS: Most orthognathic surgery patients have small titanium plates and screws inserted at the time of surgery to help hold the bones in place. These plates are under the gum tissue and are usually permanent. In addition, some patients who have had upper jaw surgery will have a plastic splint fixated to the roof of their mouth to provide additional stability. This splint is removed after 4-6 weeks. Elastics (or rubber bands) are usually placed at the time of surgery to help train you to bite in your new position as well as help maintain the position of the jaws. During the first week, elastics should be left in place; if any of the elastics break, remove the broken pieces and Dr. Stosich will replace them at your first post-operative visit. One week after surgery you will be advised on how to remove and replace the elastics, which will be done before and after each meal.
MEDICATIONS: You will be prescribed an antibiotic, pain medication, anti-inflammatory and an antibacterial mouth rinse. You will be given specific instructions on how to use each medication prior to discharge from the hospital. Please call our office if you have any questions about these instructions.
SORE THROAT: Many patients experience a sore throat for several days after surgery. This is typically related to the breathing tube used for anesthesia during surgery. In most cases, the sore throat resolves during the first week.
STITCHES: In most instances, long-lasting dissolving stiches are used. The particular type of stitch will typically start to come out after 10-days. However, if a stitch or knot is bothering you after 1 week, you may simply cut it off or call the office to have it removed.
NUMBNESS: Many patients experience numbness in their lips, chin, and gum tissue, roof of the mouth and under their eyes after orthognathic surgery. This is usually a temporary condition which gradually decreases over the course of 2-6 months. However, there have been cases of patients who experience permanent numbness or tingling sensations distributed in one or more of the affected nerves. Most patients with this condition adapt quite will without any functional problems.
RESTRICTIONS: Most patients require 2 weeks off from school or work after orthognathic surgery. Due to the effects of anesthesia, general weakness from the surgery as well as potential drowsiness from the pain medication, you should be prepared not to drive for 1 week after surgery. You must also avoid strenuous physical activity and contact sports for 6 weeks. Utah Oral & Facial Surgeons will provide you with any work/school/sport release forms you require during this time.