The different types of jaw surgery we offer at Summit OMS can be either therapeutic, to treat a medical condition, or cosmetic, to improve the appearance of the face. Jaw reduction surgery is an example of the latter type of procedure. It is performed to change the shape of the lower jaw, or mandible, to make it less square and more curved. The goal of reducing the jawline is to change the contours of the face to make it more aesthetically pleasing.
Who Is a Candidate for Jaw Reduction Surgery?
Although anyone can have this type of jaw surgery, most patients are women who have a lower jaw that is wider and more square than they would like. A square jaw functions the same but is considered more masculine, while a softer, curved jaw is considered a more feminine trait. Jaw reduction surgery can be performed in isolation or as part of a larger facial feminization surgical plan.
Jaw reduction surgery is not limited to patients of a particular sex, race, or ethnicity. Generally speaking, anyone who wishes to improve appearance by narrowing the jaw and making it more symmetrical can have the procedure done. However, we do not recommend it for patients who have a history of autoimmune or bleeding conditions or who smoke.
What Happens During the Procedure?
Jaw reduction surgery involves reducing the amount of bone in the jaw by shaving it away. Before we can do this, we must first perform an evaluation of your unique anatomy and facial structure and discuss your treatment goals during a consultation.
During the procedure, we access your jawbone by making incisions inside your mouth, approximately at the point where the cheek and gums come together on each side. We then remove the excess bone with the use of a microsaw or similar surgical tools.
Because the incisions required for this type of jaw surgery are made inside the mouth, you will not have any visible scars. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia, so you will not be conscious or feel any pain during surgery. While you will have to have multiple followups with us after your procedure, you will not have to have your stitches removed because we close the wounds using self-dissolving sutures. These disappear on their own after a few weeks as your wounds heal.
There is a variation of the jaw reduction surgery performed when your jaw appears too prominent from the side. This modified procedure involves a surgical approach from behind the ear to shave the jawbone’s bottom border. In this case, you still will not have visible scars because the incision takes place in the crease behind the ear.
What Are the Risks of Jaw Reduction Surgery?
The risks are similar to those for any other surgical procedure:
- Bleeding and drainage
- Inflammation and swelling
- Pain and bruising
- Reactions to anesthesia
In addition, damage to the nerves can cause numbness of the lips. Depending on the extent of the damage, this may be either temporary or permanent. The jaw can heal unevenly, resulting in asymmetry.
While rare with this type of jaw surgery, infection of the wounds is another risk. If a wound is infected, you may observe drainage that is an unusual color, such as black, green, or yellow, and experience nausea, fever, or dizziness.
What Are the Benefits of Jaw Surgery?
There are many factors that can cause the mandible to become enlarged. Some of these are present from birth, while others develop over time. You may not be happy with your appearance as a result. When you do not like the way you look, it can affect how you feel about yourself and the way you relate to others. With jaw reduction surgery, the appearance of your face can reflect more who you are on the inside, helping you feel more comfortable and confident.