Orthognathic Surgery Recovery: How Long Should You Take Off Work?

Orthognathic Surgery Recovery: How Long Should You Take Off Work?


Orthognathic surgery is the technical term for jaw surgery. When the shape of the jaw is particularly problematic, it can only be modified through surgical means. Jaw surgery is considered to be minimally invasive, meaning that the recovery period should be relatively short. 

How long does it take to recover from orthognathic surgery? How much time will I need to take off work or school? Here’s what you can expect so you’ll know how to plan ahead. 

What Does Orthognathic Surgery Entail? 

Orthognathic surgery may be performed on the upper or lower jaw, or sometimes both. In some cases the jaw is moved forward, sometimes backward, and other times it needs to be centered. There are a variety of different types of orthognathic surgery, but the ultimate goal is to reshape the facial bones to improve the alignment of the upper and lower jaw. In some cases orthognathic surgery is cosmetic. 

How Long Will I Stay in the Hospital?

Orthognathic surgery, although it is minimally invasive, typically requires general anesthesia. This means that the safest location for the surgery is a hospital setting. General anesthesia puts you in a deep level of sedation that requires you to be closely monitored for your safety. Recovery from general anesthesia is intensive enough to require an overnight stay in most cases. Most patients will only need one night in the hospital, while others may need two. 

How Long Will I Need to Rest at Home? 

You will need extensive rest following orthognathic surgery. Most patients will need at least a week of home rest following their procedure. After 4-5 days you may feel up to doing some light work at home, such as seated computer work or schoolwork. But you should minimize your physical activity as much as possible. You may need to sleep more than usual, both at night and during the day. If you require prescription strength pain medication, it can make you feel sleepier than usual. 

When Can I Go Back to Work or School?

Some patients are ready to go back to work or school after one week. Others may need a second week of recovery time. It is best to wait at least 2 weeks before resuming physical activity, such as manual labor or sports. You should not drive until you are able to manage your discomfort with over the counter pain medication. Plan to take at least one week off, but be prepared in case you need a few extra days for recovery. 

What Can I Eat After Orthognathic Surgery? 

Jaw surgery used to require you to have your jaws wired shut for 6 weeks following your surgery. Although it may still be required in some situations, there are now alternative options for stabilizing your jaw while it heals. A series of plates and screws can be used to hold your jaw in place so that you can still eat while you recover. Eating enough calories is important for proper healing. You will still need to eat soft foods for the first few weeks. Your doctor will assess your progress and let you know when it is safe to try more solid foods. 

How Long Will it Take My Jaw to Fully Heal? 

Complete healing can take 8 weeks or more. During the healing period you will need to avoid extremely hard foods that could put unnecessary strain on your jaw. You should also avoid contact sports or any activities that would put you at risk for facial injury. 

Who Should I See For Orthognathic Surgery?

The first step in correcting a misaligned bite is to see an orthodontist. In some cases an orthodontist can reshape your jaw and align your bite simply by moving your teeth around using growth modification techniques. In cases where orthognathic surgery is necessary, orthodontic treatment will take place before and after your surgery. 

Demko Orthodontics works closely with oral surgeons to provide the necessary pre and post operative treatment. Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.