I’m three weeks post-op double jaw surgery today! (Make sure to check out my jaw surgery recap.) While I still have many weeks of healing ahead, I made it through the worst of it and have lived to tell the tale.
I’ll be back next week with a recap of weeks three and four of healing, but today I wanted to talk about jaw surgery recovery essentials. Jaw surgery is no joke. I read up a lot on the experience beforehand and knew it was intense, but nothing could have prepared me for how absolutely broken my body felt after surgery. The tiredness, weakness, swelling, and soreness in those early days are constant reminders of what you just went through, and what you still have ahead of you.
I don’t say this to scare anyone, but to urge others to prepare themselves. Take enough time off work, make sure you have a caretaker to look after you when you’re so weak you can’t look after yourself, and be kind and gentle to your body. It went through a lot.
While every jaw surgery is different, and every recovery is unique, there are some items that are universally essential for recovery. If you’re getting ready to have jaw surgery, do yourself a favor and order these items now so you don’t have to worry about getting them when you’re trying to heal.
8 Jaw Surgery Recovery Essentials
1. A comfy robe (or two!) – I lived in robes after surgery. For two weeks I would start shivering if I took my robe off. (In August.) It kept me warm and provided comfort when I needed it most. Just prepare yourself for how often you will have to wash it. You are going to drool spit and blood and anything you drink on it for a solid two weeks. Josh was constantly washing robes so I could change into a fresh one each morning.
2. An ice mask – An ice mask is a gift from heaven. It feels so good on your hot, swollen, broken face. It’s also critical to use daily the first week to reduce swelling. I loved my ice masks.
3. A heating pad – After a week I was told to move from ice to heat. Heat promotes healing and also feels pretty wonderful on a sore face. Last week I was told to use the heating pad on my puffy cheeks. This week I am supposed to heat the sides of my jaw to promote mouth movement.
4. Bathroom cups – I have already gone through a million of these! I use them to hold my rubber bands when I take them out, to clean out my syringes, to gargle with water. The list is endless. Definitely stock up on these.
5. Fuzzy socks – The amount of joy that putting on comfy socks each day brought me cannot be understated. My feet were so cold without them. And they just feel so nice. When your body is in pretty horrible discomfort, do something for it that will make it feel nice.
6. Syringes – I’m going to sound like a weirdo but I love using syringes. I currently can’t suck enough to properly use a straw, and when I try and drink straight from a cup half of it ends up on me. Syringes get everything in my mouth, keep me clean, and are easy to use. They do start to get gunked up after a while and the measurement lines rub off which is no bueno since they’re also used for medicine, so make sure to buy a few extra. If syringes are not your style, try a squeeze bottle or squeeze bags!
7. A soft blanket – Basically, the two things you can give a person after jaw surgery are comfort or relief. The ice packs and heating pad provide relief. The robe, socks, and blanket provide comfort. Josh wrapping me up in a soft blanket each day was the best feeling. I’m currently typing this while wrapped up under three soft blankets. They are worth their weight in gold.
8. Baby toothbrushes – Your job as a patient is to heal and keep your mouth free from infection. The most important thing you can do after surgery for the latter is practice good oral hygiene. For the first week or so that will likely just be swishing antibiotic mouthwash. But once you can, it’s important to start brushing your teeth. I love these baby toothbrushes because they were small enough to fit in my very swollen mouth and did the job. When getting my splint out this past week, my surgeon told me I had the cleanest mouth he’s ever seen after surgery. Baby toothbrushes are your friend. (And baby sized everything is a good idea for a while. Like baby spoons!)
- I loved having a neck pillow to help me sleep the first week and a half. It eventually became more annoying than helpful so I eventually ditched it but it was amazing for keeping my head stabilized those first few days.
- Your sinuses are jacked up after surgery. A dehumidifier helped me keep my sinuses as clear as possible.
- A thermometer is one of the only ways to tell if you’re getting an infection that first week after surgery, so I’d definitely recommend one for peace of mind.
- I recognize a fingertip oxygen monitor is complete overkill, but the first few nights I was so swollen I was scared I was going to stop breathing in the middle of the night. Wearing this monitor gave me peace of mind.
- I haven’t run out of the one the hospital gave me yet or else this would definitely be on the must-have list for everyone. Mouth moisturizer. Use it all day every day. Swollen, dry lips are not fun.
Question of the Day: For those of you who already had jaw surgery, am I missing anything from my list?
Baby toothbrushes sound like a great idea for any mouth surgery. And I love the idea of the face mask! That had to have felt great.
The ice mask felt sooo good!
Ahh I didn’t know they made ice masks for your face! That sounds absolutely essential. Wishing you a speedy recovery and healing. <3
It felt incredibleeeee after everything my face had been through. Thank you lady!
Amy @ Orison Orchards says
Oh, wow! It sounds so painful! Best wishes to you, and I hope you have some loved ones to spoil you a little!
Jasmine Hewitt says
wishing swift healing as jaw surgery sucks and is no fun!
I had jaw surgery as a teenager and this would have been good to have!
Misola Adeyemo says
I wish you the quickest recovery! I can relate with using socks and a soft blanket, the comfort it gives is superb..
The ice mask sound so wonderful! Hope you are having a speedy recovery!
Lindsay|Spelndiferous Ma says
I’ve never had jaw surgery, but these seem like great suggestions. My brother in law had jaw surgery in high school and I’m sure he would have like the ice face mask.
Neely Moldovan says
I am pinning this just becuase I know this is going to help so many!
It sounds like you and I had a major surgery around the same time. I hope you are doing well – that is just as important to say now as when the surgery was new I know! Continue to take good care of yourself.
First off, congrats on making it through such a difficult time and coming out on the other end with a BEAUTIFUL bite and smile!
This post is so relevant to what I’m experiencing right now! I am officially 1 month, 1 day post-op and it has been the fastest, yet slowest time of my life. Recovery has been way more challenging than I ever imagined. I left the hospital after 4 days, and by the time I got home, I was too sick-feeling to even so much as watch tv until the end of week 1. The entire time I was at the hospital, I was only able to drink 1-2 Ensure shakes my entire visit. I had no appetite, and was extremely nautious and miserable. I lost 10 pounds during those 4 days. Everything you mentioned is so similar to my experience so far, except I did not bleed through my mouth (except for vomiting blood 1 time the night of surgery), and my nose bled occasionally during the first couple weeks. I still have my splint in, and am jealous you were able to get yours out sooner! Eating is pretty challenging, since I can only minimally open my mouth and can’t even enjoy a milkshake because the coldness gets trapped in my splint and is so uncomfortable, BUT it’s getting better. I am seeing a little progress each day. My energy is still pretty low, and I am dreading going back to work in a week and a half! On a positive note, I am now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and am already loving my new smile and correct bite!
Here are some must-have products I want to recommend:
1- Face heat wrap for after the initial ice-only stage. This was the most efficient way I found to heat my face, because you can warm the heat pack in the microwave so easily!
2- Wedge pillow for sleeping. I am still using this and honestly don’t plan to discontinue using it anytime soon. I NEVER attempted to sleep flat after surgery, and remember the uncomfortable pressure I experienced when being lowered too low in the hospital bed after surgery.
3- Tiny fridge for anyone who, like myself, has a bedroom upstairs and is completely miserable during the initial post-op days. I stayed in my bedroom for the first 2 days at home, and bought this tiny fridge to store my medicine.
4- Compact mirror for eating. One of the craziest sensations after surgery is not being able to feel your lips or face, and having to completely retrain yourself on how to eat and move your mouth/lips. When eating, I still use a mirror even after 4 weeks!
Hope this helps anyone who is either going through the painful post-op phase now, or who is considering getting jaw surgery! 🙂