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What to Expect During Jaw Surgery and Orthognathic Procedures

Jaw surgery, or orthognathic surgery, is an intricate medical procedure aimed at correcting an array of jaw-related issues. These issues can range from misalignment to severe facial trauma. At St. Louis South Oral Surgery, we specialize in oral and maxillofacial surgery, providing optimal care to those in St. Louis, MO, and surrounding areas. As experts in the field, we understand that the prospect of undergoing jaw surgery can be daunting. This article serves as an in-depth guide to help you understand what to expect during jaw surgery and orthognathic procedures.

Initial Consultation: The Foundation of Your Surgical Journey

Your journey towards jaw surgery starts with an initial consultation. This is where we take the time to:

  • Understand your concerns and symptoms
  • Conduct a detailed examination
  • Review your medical history

During this phase, diagnostic tests like X-rays and CT scans may be employed to evaluate the condition of your jaw. Once your condition is adequately assessed, the surgeon will present a tailored treatment plan for you. It is crucial to be open about your medical history and any medications you are taking, as these could impact the surgical procedure and subsequent recovery.

Preoperative Planning: Being Fully Prepared

Preparing for surgery involves far more than just marking a date on your calendar. Here’s what to expect during the planning phase:

  • Pre-surgical orthodontics: If you have teeth alignment issues, you may need to undergo orthodontic treatment before the surgery.
  • Comprehensive Evaluations: Expect a series of evaluations by multiple healthcare providers, including nutritionists and speech therapists. Their assessments can influence the final surgical approach.
  • Medical Clearance: Depending on your age and medical history, additional tests may be required to ensure you’re a suitable candidate for surgery.
  • Financial Planning: Jaw surgery can be costly, and while insurance may cover a portion, you should have a financial plan in place.
  • Pre-operative Visits: You’ll likely have a series of visits leading up to the surgery to monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments to the surgical plan.

The Day of Surgery: What Happens in the Operating Room?

The day you’ve been preparing for has arrived. So, what can you expect?

Anesthesia

General anesthesia is commonly used for jaw surgery to ensure you remain unconscious and free from pain throughout the procedure. The type of anesthesia used may depend on various factors, including the complexity of the surgery and your overall health.

Surgical Procedure

The specifics of your surgery will depend on the issues being addressed. Generally, the surgeon will make incisions inside the mouth to prevent visible scarring. Bones may be cut, moved, and held in place with screws or plates. If your condition is more complex, the surgeon may need to make additional incisions on the face.

Monitoring

Continuous monitoring of your vital signs is essential during the procedure. Your surgical team will use sophisticated technology to keep tabs on your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels, ensuring your safety at all times.

The average duration of jaw surgery can vary significantly, depending on what needs to be corrected. Simple procedures may take just a couple of hours, while more complex surgeries can extend to five or six hours.

By now, you should have a clearer understanding of what the initial stages of jaw surgery entail, from the first consultation to the day of the operation. But what about after the surgery? What can you expect during the recovery phase? To find out, continue reading in the next installment.

The Postoperative Phase: The Road to Recovery

Once the surgery is complete, you’ll be moved to a recovery room where the immediate post-operative monitoring will take place. Here, medical professionals will closely watch your vital signs and level of consciousness as you gradually awaken from anesthesia. Once stabilized, you’ll be transferred to a hospital room where you may need to stay for several days, depending on the complexity of the surgery and your overall condition.

Immediate Aftercare

The first few days post-surgery are critical for ensuring a smooth recovery. Expect to experience some of the following:

  • Pain and Discomfort: Pain management is a top priority, and you will be provided with medications to help alleviate discomfort.
  • Swelling and Bruising: These are common side effects and will reduce gradually over time.
  • Nutritional Changes: You may initially be on a liquid or soft food diet to minimize stress on the surgical site.
  • Mobility Restrictions: Limiting strenuous activities is advised, especially within the first week after surgery.

Follow-up Appointments: Tracking Your Progress

Scheduled follow-up appointments are an essential part of the recovery process. During these visits, the surgeon will assess your healing and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan. X-rays and other diagnostic tests may be carried out to confirm that the bones are healing as they should.

Long-term Recovery

While you may start feeling better within a few weeks, complete recovery often takes several months. You will need to:

  • Continue with your prescribed medications
  • Attend regular physical therapy sessions, if advised
  • Adhere to dietary guidelines

It’s crucial to follow all the advice and instructions provided by your healthcare team for a successful recovery.

Risks and Complications: Being Aware and Informed

Like any surgical procedure, jaw surgery comes with its set of risks and complications, such as:

  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Relapse of the jaw position
  • Excessive bleeding

Your surgeon will discuss these risks with you in detail during the preoperative planning phase, including steps taken to minimize them.

Now You Know What to Expect During Jaw Surgery

Choosing to undergo jaw surgery is a significant decision that can drastically improve your quality of life. At St. Louis South Oral Surgery, we are committed to providing a seamless and comfortable experience, from the initial consultation to long-term aftercare. Our team of skilled professionals is always here to guide you every step of the way.

While the prospect of jaw surgery can be intimidating, knowing what to expect can make the journey less daunting. We hope this article has been a helpful guide as you consider this transformative procedure. Should you have more questions or wish to consult with our experts, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, feel free to contact us at St. Louis South Oral Surgery. Your journey to a better, more functional jaw starts here.

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