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?