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Oral Surgery/Appearance of lips after jaw surgery?

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Question
Hello, I am two and a half weeks post jaw surgery. I had an open bite, so my upper jaw was advanced 4 mm and the bottom was advanced and rotated to close the bite. I also had a genioplasty to bring out my receded chin. One thing that I've been stressing about enormously is the appearance of my lips. They are incredibly thin now, whereas before, I had a very full and prominent bottom lip. I cannot yet close my lips, and addressed this with one of the doctors. She assured me that my lips will fill out more as my facial muscles loosen up and normalize. However, I really don't know if I can believe that. This has been causing great stress to me, because without the presence of my lips, I feel I look awful. Was my doctor right? Will my lips relax and display more as I heal? I don't understand where they could have gone to.

Answer
Kate - of course every situation is different and not all muscles relax completely after the surgery.  Often physical therapy is used to relax the lips and allow them to resume a more normal appearance with an easy closure.  That is all true if the planning of the surgery by the surgeon was correct and the procedure was done well.  Again, I cannot tell without examining you.  At 2 1/2 weeks there is still tightness and relaxation of the lips will proceed with time, but beginning muscle exercises will also help.  So after another couple of weeks, if the lips have not fully relaxed,  you surgeon should refer you to a physical therapist skilled in the facial musculature.  

All in all, it is early and relaxation should occur, but seeing a physical therapist might be beneficial in a couple to few weeks.

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Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired

Expertise

I am a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon available to answer questions related to tooth extractions, implant insertion, facial recontruction, facial and oral tumor removal, TMJ dysfunction and various successful treatments, including surgery if all else fails, and occlusal discrepancy requiring orthognathic or jaw surgery.

Experience

Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicing for over 20 years. Assistant Clincal Professor at State University School of Dentistry.

Organizations
American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Education/Credentials
BA- University of Connecticut DMD-University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Residency - Roosevelt Hospital, NYC

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