Jaw Corrective Surgery (Orthognathic Surgery)

The jaws, teeth, and facial bones are important components of the facial profile and significantly affect facial balance and aesthetics. If the positioning of the upper jaw, lower jaw, and facial bones are out of balance with one another or with other facial structures, the appearance of the teeth, lips, chin, neck, nose, cheeks, and forehead is affected.

Are you a candidate?

Vertical imbalance of the jaws may create cosmetic concerns such as having a “toothless smile” or a “gummy smile” when speaking, resting, or smiling. Horizontal imbalance of the jaws may cause cosmetic concerns by creating a facial profile with an exaggerated convex “weak chin” or concave “strong chin.” Malpositioning of the jaws also causes an “underbite” or “overbite” condition.

Dr. Abuzeni provides comprehensive, multispecialty care for the treatment of these conditions and will work with you to determine the best course of treatment.

The goal of treatment is to shorten or lengthen the horizontal, vertical, or transverse dimensions of the jaw so that the facial soft tissue, teeth, and other facial structures are in proper functional and aesthetic balance. Other surgical and medical evaluations also may be required to assess associated cosmetic (skin, nose, and neck) and functional (speech, airway, and sleep) problems.

What is the treatment procedure?

Patients begin treatment with orthodontic management. Most patients need to wear braces for six months to two years to properly straighten the teeth. After the first portion of orthodontic work is complete, jaw surgery (osteotomy) is performed through mouth incisions. The repositioned bone is held in position during healing with various small internal metal devices. These devices, except on rare occasions, are retained indefinitely.

What are the risks of orthognathic surgery?

Orthognathic surgical procedures are safe and predictable. Surgical complications are minor and uncommon. Patients should expect significant swelling and bruising during the first two weeks following surgery. When the lower jaw is repositioned, a period of lower-lip numbness or tingling is present and may last for weeks or months. On rare occasions, this altered lip feeling may persist indefinitely.

What will the recovery period be like after surgery?

Patients undergo general anesthesia and hospitalization for one to three days following surgery. A liquid/soft diet is prescribed for four to six weeks, and lower jaw function is restricted during this period of bone healing. The patient is able to talk and open his or her mouth. Orthodontic treatment will resume six to eight weeks after jaw surgery and frequently lasts six to twelve months (for a total surgery and orthodontic treatment time of 12 to 24 months). Following removal of the orthodontic braces, the patient can expect a stable cosmetic and functional improvement.