If you are undergoing orthognathic surgery, it is important to follow these instructions to ensure optimal healing and quick recovery.


At your pre-surgical appointment, which usually takes place within one week before your surgery, you will receive all of your post-operative prescriptions. For your convenience, please fill your prescriptions before undergoing your surgery. Your prescribed narcotic will make you drowsy. Please take your narcotic medication as prescribed. If instructed by your surgeon, you may use 800mg of ibuprofen every 6 hours in addition to your prescribed narcotic. Please avoid using aspirin during your recovery. You will be taking antibiotics during the first seven to ten days following surgery to prevent a possible post-surgical infection. Please take all of your antibiotics as prescribed.

Oral Hygiene

It is important to keep your mouth clean after surgery, even if the mouth is sensitive, as bacterial plaque and food accumulation may cause infection and delay healing. Begin brushing your teeth and cleaning your mouth at least 2 times a day beginning the day after surgery. Any incisions made during surgery will be far enough away from your teeth to prevent touching them with your toothbrush if you brush carefully around your teeth and gums.

If you were given elastics, you may remove them when brushing and rinsing. Please use the Peridex oral rinse twice a day. Replace the elastics in their exact original position when you are finished brushing your teeth. Replace a broken elastic as soon as possible. You will be given extra elastics to replace any elastics that might break during normal function.

Keep your lips moist by using a very thin layer of lip ointment, such as Vaseline, Blistex or Chapstick.


Swelling is normal after surgery and may be a cause of post-surgical discomfort. Swelling can be reduced by applying an ice pack to the side of your face for 20 minutes, then transferring it to the opposite side for another 20 minutes. Do not freeze the skin. Icing is effective for the first 24 hours only. Do not be alarmed if facial swelling increases 36–48 hours after surgery. If you were given a Polar Care machine, disregard the above instructions and follow the instructions you were given in the hospital/surgical center for the Polar Care machine.

It is not uncommon to experience a low-grade temperature in the first 1–2 days following surgery, and it will resolve on its own. An ice pack is also useful following your surgery to soothe your face if it is feeling warm or if you experience muscle spasms. We also recommend sleeping with an elevated head during the first week and covering pillows with a towel, as blood clots may break down at night.


Following your surgery, you will be placed on a non-chewing, soft food or liquid diet. Your doctor will provide you with in-depth information regarding your diet before surgery. It is important that you maintain balanced nutrition, despite eating limitations. Dietary supplements such as Ensure or Boost can help you obtain the nutrients that your body needs. If you are allowed soft food options, please do not bite into anything with your front teeth, even if it feels soft. This will prevent you from placing excess pressure on the bone screws and plates that are holding your jaw in place.

Nasal Spray

Many patients who undergo upper jaw surgery experience nasal congestion and may use a nasal spray to clear their sinus passage. Remember, the sinus passage does not go straight up, and it is necessary to tilt the top of the bottle downward once inserted in the nostril and to squirt according to the spray instructions. You should taste the spray in the back your throat. Administer nasal spray into both nostrils. You should only use nasal spray once every 12 hours. Do not blow your nose or participate in heavy lifting or straining of facial muscles for the first 2 weeks after surgery.


Patients who remain active during their recovery period recover much more quickly than those who remain inactive. You are encouraged to ambulate 3–4 times a day for the first week of surgery. You will probably experience the “ups and downs” of the recovery period during the first week after surgery, but this is normal. Nearly every patient has second thoughts about their surgery during the first week, but hang in there, because the second week will be much better!