American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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Orthognathic Surgery

Jaw Straightening

Orthognathic surgery, or jaw straightening surgery, uses a spectrum of surgical procedures for the jaw and chin to improve both form and function.

What should you expect before jaw surgery?

What should I expect during a consultation for jaw surgery?

During your jaw surgery consultation be prepared to discuss:

  • Your surgical goals
  • Medical conditions, drug allergies, previous medical treatments and specifically any problems you have had with your eyes
  • Current prescription medications, including vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drug use
  • Previous surgeries

Your plastic surgeon will also:

  • Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
  • Take photographs
  • Discuss your orthognathic surgery options
  • Recommend a course of treatment
  • Discuss likely outcomes of surgery and any potential risks
  • Discuss the type of anesthesia that will be used

The consultation is the time to ask your plastic surgeon questions. To help, we have prepared a checklist of questions to ask your plastic surgeon that you can take with you to your jaw surgery consultation.

It's natural to feel some anxiety, whether it's excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don't be shy about discussing these feelings with your plastic surgeon.

What questions should I ask my plastic surgeon about jaw surgery?

Use this checklist of as a guide during your jaw surgery consultation:

  • Are you certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?
  • Were you specifically trained in the field of plastic surgery?
  • How many years of plastic surgery training have you had?
  • Do you have hospital privileges to perform this procedure? If so, at which hospitals?
  • Is the office-based surgical facility accredited by a nationally- or state-recognized accrediting agency, or is it state-licensed or Medicare-certified?
  • Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
  • What will be expected of me to get the best results?
  • Where and how will you perform my procedure?
  • What surgical technique is recommended for me?
  • How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
  • What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
  • How are complications handled?
  • How can I expect my face to look over time?
  • What are my options if I am dissatisfied with the cosmetic outcome of my jaw surgery?
  • Do you have before-and-after photos I can look at for this procedure and what results are reasonable for me?

What are the risks of jaw surgery?

The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal and you will have to weigh the potential benefits in achieving your goals with the risks and potential complications of jaw surgery. Only you can make that decision for yourself.

You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks and potential complications.

Possible orthognathic surgery risks include:

  • Anesthesia risks
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Numbness to the cheeks and lower lip, that can, on occasion, be permanent
  • Limitation in mouth opening
  • Relapse or recurrence of the original bite problem
  • Infection
  • Improper healing of the bones
  • Damage to teeth
  • Jaw joint problems
  • Possible need for revision surgery
  • Unfavorable scarring

These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.

How should I prepare for jaw surgery?

In preparing for jaw surgery, you may be asked to:

  • Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
  • Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding and bruising

Orthognathic surgery is usually performed in a hospital setting but depending on the procedure, may be performed in an accredited office-based surgical facility or a licensed ambulatory surgical center. Be sure to arrange for a friend or family member to drive you to and from surgery, and to stay with you the first night or even an additional night following surgery.

Hospital stay is typically a day or two and recovery typically occurs over a period of a month.



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