Why My Jaw Surgery Was So Easy

In braces, Facial changes, jaw surgery, jaw surgery recovery, Money & Finance by Susan21 Comments

Why was my swelling so minimal? Why was my recovery so simple, and so painless? How did I go back to work so fast?

I receive a lot of questions like this from readers getting ready for jaw surgery and adult braces.

How in the world did I recover naturally from jaw surgery, in such a short period of time and taking ZERO prescription medicines? Am I magical? Is my surgeon a miracle-worker?

The answer is far simpler, and less glamorous, than you think.

I’ll even bullet-point it, right here, so you don’t have to read the tirade that follows (but you still should…):

  • Be healthy. I’m healthy, and you can be too. If you’re considering any kind of elective surgery, including jaw surgery, it’s an absolute imperative that you be in top health before you go for it.
  • Have a great attitude. Attitude, attitude, attitude! Just like you’re doing right now, I started out my research process by scouring lots of blogs about jaw surgery. I even fully freaked myself out with a few searches on horrible (and internationally outlawed) practices like leg-extension surgery. In short, I became fully versed in the ills of surgery – in worst case scenarios. Then I realized, this was the stupidest thing I could be doing. I quit reading the complain-y blogs, I quit doing ‘research’ on the Internet, and I just decided to focus on how great it was that I even had the opportunity to have jaw surgery. There are many many people in the world who have such severe skeletal deformities that they can’t walk, or type, or any of a number of other ‘everyday’ activities. I decided to shut out all the ‘I’m suffering because of my jaw surgery that was SO hard’ blogs, and tune in to everything that was positive – the fact that I got table-time with the awesome Dr. Kasey Li, the fact that my insurance sort of covered the procedure, the fact that I’m still young and have lots of life to enjoy post-op, and the fact that I got to pick a playlist to run on my iPod while they were sawing my head.
  • Take the natural route to recovery. Let’s face it, unnatural things – even ‘medicines’ meant to help us – can often be taxing on our bodies. There are many extreme examples of this, like chemotherapy, but the millions of potential ‘side effects’ listed on common medications are everyday examples. When you’re body is rebuilding itself – literally rebuilding the bone that holds your face together – why give it more to deal with? I didn’t take a single drop of the prescription pain medication that my surgeon prescribed for me, and I actually did not continue with antibiotics after the first day either – primarily because I noticed how much havoc the antibiotics were wreaking on my digestive system. If you want to know all the details of my Chinese medicine usage and my hatred of antibiotics, check under the category Jaw Surgery, for the month of November. The notes are all there.


Happy after jaw surgery and fast natural recovery

Happy after jaw surgery and fast natural recovery

I’m not perfect, and I don’t have the world’s most perfect diet or lifestyle. However, as I’ve previously mentioned in my post about sugar consumption and inflammation, I strongly believe in the rule of 80%.

I don’t eat perfect macrobiotic meals every day, but I do enjoy a mostly vegetarian, healthy diet filled with lots of fresh organic vegetables from the neighboring county, whole grains, and very little junk food (like Doritos).

I don’t drink every day, but I definitely enjoy a glass (or three) of wine on the weekends – I’m young, and I love going out with my friends, but you won’t catch me doing it every night and you won’t see me downing any flaming shots any time either.

I NEVER smoke, and, especially in the months leading up to my surgery, I strictly limited my exposure to inflammatory things – sugar, coffee, dairy, white flour/pasta/bread (which, as far as your body is concerned, is the same as sugar), stress.

With health, as with attitude and recovery from any trauma, be it physical or psychological, always consider the rule of 80%.

and… Thanks for reading!

Submitted on 2009/02/17 at 12:52am

Hi Susan,

I am really surprised when I read your story regarding your jaw surgery.

Everyone seems to stay at the hospital for a few days following the surgery and the swellings are so bad – like really really bad (not to forget how painful and bloody the recovery process would be).. but yours were different. You didn’t swell that bad (in fact nothing bad at all- you were just like having one or two teeth extracted)- even after only 8 hours post-op and you were not wearing a bandage all over your face.

Was this a miracle happening to you or the surgeon’s expertise that really could make this happen?

I am thinking about having a jaw surgery to correct my underbite but the painful recovery process really holds me on. If your surgeon could create such a way-more-painless-and-less-swelling recovering process, I would like to have him to do the work on me.

Thanks for sharing.

-A Reader


  1. Well said, Susan. I love your positive vibe, which is why I always check in on your blog. I had upper and lower done 2 months ago, and don’t make my surgery out to be more than what it really is – an elective surgery,not a life-threatening one. I totally share your attitude!

  2. I had both upper and lower jaw surgery on Dec. 17th. My surgery was the last of three performed by my surgeon on that day. I never experienced pain and I was walking on my own the next day. Although very swollen, the nurses assured me that I was doing very well and that the other two patients were not doing as well. I attribute it to being in very good physical shape. I am an avid cyclist and eat fairly healthy. I may add that I am also 41 years old and the other two patients I refer to were much younger. The first week to ten days out of the hospital were the worst for me. My energy level was low, I hated eating through a giant syringe, and my mental state was low. However, I walked for 45 minutes to an hour each day. I attribute the increased blood flow and circulation for my diminishing swelling. After two months there is hardly any indication of swelling and almost all of the numbness is gone. I have enjoyed reading Susan’s blog and I agree with most of the advice she gives. If you are scheduled to have surgery soon, don’t believe the horror stories. My best advice would be to be as fit and healthy as you can prior to surgery.

  3. Hi Susan,
    Marisol sent me your blog and i just wanted to say that it’s so great to read the details of your recovery and hear the other readers’ responses. I had upper jaw surgery on Wednesday. Triple Maxilla, so they cut the upper jaw into three sections. It was quite an ordeal, and I’m only five days into recovery. The swelling is as expected, i think, but the sinus pressure and numbness is the most discomforting part.

    From what I gather about your surgery, you had the jaw procedure before your braces were put on. I know they must be terribly annoying, but if it makes you feel any better, I had to wear mine for three years before my surgery. Imagine—they weren’t doing much but getting my teeth lined up for the actual procedure. Now they feel more like furniture, that one day I’d like to get rid of. 🙂

    Thanks again, and will keep checking in. Best Wishes

  4. Fantastic!

    Yes, daily walks are VERY important if you want your swelling to go away quickly.

    What NOT to do? Drink booze, smoke, hang upside so that all the blood rushes to your face… ya’ know, all the fun stuff.

    dkosark is right – athletes are stars at healing. Think of it this way, when you’re physically fit, you get sick far less frequently because your immune system is healthy and strong. Healing your face bones is not so different.

  5. Hey everybody, I had upper jaw surgery on May 7th. I am 44, certainly not in the shape that I was in even ten years ago, and I think that is why maybe this healing is really getting to me now. I am in my second week out of the hospital, and the swelling and pressure in my upper lip and sinus area is killing me. I can’t even imagine going out in public right now. I know I have to try to take walks though. Having much trouble sleeping too, without percocet it is impossible, and I am running out! Any advice?

  6. Hi Gary,

    You should get out of the house, even just to walk around the block one time. Even if you’re embarrassed that your neighbors will see you, you’ve got to do it.

    Your pain is aggravated by your swelling, which is prolonged because you’re not getting out and about. If you have the energy to move around, you must do it (and drink LOTS of water too!).

    Also, you might check out my post about 5 Natural Ways To Reduce Swelling After Jaw Surgery (search on the site).

    Thanks for reading my blog!


  7. Oh, I also feel like I looked better before having this surgery than I do now. Is it too soon to judge? I’m at my wit’s end.

  8. My doc told me to stay away from Bromelain because it can increase bleeding.

  9. Hm, I have not heard that. Also, you’re not bleeding significantly at this point – two weeks after your surgery – are you?

    In European countries, Bromelain is widely prescribed as a pre- and post-surgical treatment.

    While it helped me, there are certainly less risky ways of alleviating swelling (walking, water), though with less dramatic impact that supplements.

  10. I’m also having such trouble eating that I have lost 20 lbs. in one week already. I am afraid of losing too much weight!

  11. I know, I read about your usage and your success, and I even showed my doc your articles, but she said not to use it. I just can’t believe that you can smile and laugh two weeks after surgery. I just drool with my mouth open all day.

  12. I have had conventional doctors tell me all sorts of things.

    My point is, if you are STILL experiencing this much swelling and suffering after this long, then SOMETHING about your doctor’s prescribed treatment IS NOT WORKING.

    It frustrates me when physicians (or veterinarians, for that matter!) allow their fear of natural remedies prevent them from conveying the value of these treatments to many of their patients.

    What is most important here is that you achieve healing and comfort as soon as possible. If something’s not working, then you should make like a start-up founder and iterate (within reason and based on calculated risk, of course)!

    A few glasses of pineapple juice are not going to hurt you (the equivalent to a couple bromelain pills) – at least not more than daily doses of Percocet…

  13. That said, I would NEVER EVER want you to do anything that you’re not comfortable with, especially if you trust and and feel confidence in your practitioner.

  14. The hard part for me with the pills is that I have to crush them to get them down, then add them to some liquid. So disgusting tasting.

  15. Not as disgusting as Chinese medicine.

    I don’t feel bad for you – I braved the thick yellow crap 2x daily for 8 DAYS!! If I can do that, you can take crushed pills… 😉

  16. So how is the weather in San Fran.? Feels like rain in NY today over here.

  17. Was anyone ever told they had to take Motrin 4 times a day to clean out the medicine in their bodies?

  18. Hi Susan, you have no idea how much your blog has helped me. But I do have one question:
    I have smallish eyes to begin with, and no cheekbones whatsoever. I kind of have to (and want to) have the surgery because of chewing and breathing jaw tiredness and difficulties, but I’m afraid that if I get it, I’ll have cheekbones and then they’ll cover half my eyes and make them seem even smaller. Did you notice any difference?

  19. Susan,

    I would love to touchbase with you about your journey with this surgery. I am planning to have my lower jaw done in September. I am abit anxious because I have no idea what to prepare for. Thanks!

  20. Hey, Im having my operation in 6 days and i havent been told much about it… All i know is my bottom jaw is being snapped and pulled back! I didnt ask questions due to the shock of what the doctor was saying. I have had my xray, mold and photographs taken already. I just want to know how long the operation takes and how long im going to need off work.. I am 18 and sh**ing myself! Many thanks 🙂

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