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Jaw Surgery

Reconstructive jaw surgery is a maxillofacial procedure that is performed in order to correct problems with the form and function of the jawbones. Jaw problems that may require reconstructive surgery are numerous. They can be the result of congenital malformation or traumatic injuries. The procedure can greatly benefit people who have experienced pain and disability as a result of jaw problems. People with serious jaw deformities can have difficulty chewing and eating. Early loss of teeth might occur as a result of this disfigurement. People who have these jaw problems might also have difficulty with speech that can be improved with the help of reconstructive jaw surgery.

How is the procedure performed

The surgery can be performed on the lower jaw (mandible), the upper jaw (maxilla), and the surrounding facial structures. Often fixing jaw problems requires both the help of a plastic reconstructive surgeon and an orthodontist who can help to correct problems with the teeth. The surgery is performed by a plastic surgeon that cuts the jawbone using a procedure called osteotomy and permanently repositions the structure of the jaw. The bone structure is held in place with titanium plates, wires, and screws. Sometimes arch bars are also utilized to provide greater stability and support.

There are a number of special techniques that can be used during reconstructive jaw surgery that can facilitate optimal results in patients. "Distraction" is a technique that uses a device to slowly expand the jaw area until the new or repositioned jawbone grows stronger. During surgery, a bone graft might be necessary for people with infections or deficiencies in bone structure. Bones from the ribs, hips, and skull can be grafted to create new jawbone structure. Alloplastic bone replacement procedures may also be employed.

Reconstructive jaw surgery is normally performed under general anesthesia on an in-patient basis, meaning that the patient will have a short stay in the hospital following the procedure. As with all medical procedures, there are risks and benefits that a patient will want to discuss with the surgeon before the procedure.

Jaw Implants

Jaw implants are designed to create a balanced relationship between the structure of the face and its features. They use synthetic or biological materials to augment, or make the mandible structure of the face more prominent.

Jaw implants may also enhance the face with a combination of chin or cheek augmentation to balance out the features. It's actually very common to schedule jaw implants in conjunction with chin augmentation. An experienced plastic surgeon can help determine your needs by examining your facial structure and photographs of your face.

Prior to undergoing jaw implant surgery you must have reasonable expectations. Speaking generally, this means you must:

  • be in top physical and emotional health
  • have elastic skin
  • have no previous existing medical conditions or bone disorders

An experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon can determine if you are a good candidate for jaw implant after speaking to you. The surgeon will also go over your medical history and examine your facial structure and skin. No plastic surgeon can perform miracles but a highly skilled surgeon can transfer your existing features into a more balanced look.

How is a jaw implant procedure performed?

If you have the desire for a stronger, more defined jaw line, you may be a good candidate for jaw implants. The jaw implants are placed directly on the jawbone to create a stronger, squarer, and more defined jaw line. The procedure takes one to two hours. Incisions are made inside the lower lip and a pocket is created, into which the implant is inserted. After surgery, movement of your mouth and lips may be limited and you will have dietary restrictions. Swelling can be significant. While most of the swelling will subside in the first week, you may experience mild swelling over several months.

Although there is normally no extensive pain related to jaw implantation, pain medication is prescribed beforehand. Your surgeon may also prescribe pharmaceutical grade Arnica montana, a homeopathic herb, to reduce swelling and bruising. You may feel a degree of numbness after the surgery, but that should disappear within 1-3 months. You may continue to wear a support brace while you sleep to allow your tissues and implant to heal in the desired position and prevent shifting in the first few weeks.

Like all surgeries, jaw implant surgery has possible complications, including:

  • blood clots
  • seroma
  • numbness from nerve damage
  • permanent discolorations caused by the bruising

There is also the risk of implant shifting which may require additional surgery to reposition the implant. There is the chance of your disapproval, which may result in re-operation or removal.

Jaw implants can create remarkable changes by adding balance and definition to other underdeveloped features of the face. In most cases, jaw implant surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, though an overnight stay may be necessary if other procedures are performed at the same time. Consult with an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon to see if you are a candidate for jaw implant surgery.

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