Double jaw surgery (also known as corrective jaw surgery) is an invasive and dangerous surgical procedure that aims to fix a protruding jaw or jaw misalignment. It requires the removal of all or part of the patient’s mandible – which can have many side effects, including difficulty speaking, breathing, the development of OSA (obstructive sleep apnea), chewing, and swallowing food. To mitigate these risks, there are less invasive alternatives that may be considered for patients who wish to improve their facial appearance without undergoing major surgery.
Why Opt for Double Jaw (Bimaxillary Osteotomy) Surgery in the First Place?
There are many reasons why a patient may want to undergo corrective jaw surgery. The most common goals of orthognathic surgery are reducing crowding in the mouth and creating an even bite between the upper and lower teeth, or even crooked teeth, which can reduce tooth decay and gum disease. Orthognathic surgery also helps correct facial asymmetry with other facial features by moving the chin point (menton) closer to the nose and balancing the upper jaw and lower jaw. The essential goal of this corrective jaw surgery is to fix jaw misalignment and improve jaw movement overall.
Most oral and maxillofacial surgeons consider it a radical medical solution. Around 52 percent of people who have had it done have experienced complications. An increasing number of South Koreans, however, are choosing double jaw surgery for cosmetic reasons alone. They want to change the entire bone structure of the face to achieve a dramatically new look. But what exactly makes this invasive corrective jaw surgery so dangerous, to begin with?
Reasons Why Double Jaw Surgery Is So Dangerous
Double jaw surgery is a dangerous, invasive surgical procedure. There are many possible risks and side effects from this maxillofacial surgery & operation that can be life-changing or even deadly. The most common risk for patients who undergo orthognathic surgery is the death of the tissue inside their mouth – which then leads to infection and sepsis. Other complications related to this specific type of jaw surgery include:
- needing multiple surgeries to correct problems with the teeth
- having difficulty swallowing food (even if it’s pureed)
- chronic jaw pain even after the recovery process
- feeling pain around their neck area during swallowing
- dental wires placed too close to nerves due to improper positioning of the lower jaw bone, causing severe discomfort or numbness in affected areas such as the lower teeth
- scarring on face post-surgery when the artery was cut near lip line instead of under the chin
- painful neck movement following lower jaw surgery
- loss of oral function – including speaking, chewing, or swallowing food
In some cases, double jaw surgery patients reported facial numbness and even paralysis. Patients who undergo orthognathic surgery may also need to use a feeding tube for some time following the operation. Certain patients even report developing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) as a result. Double jaw surgery is not recommended as an option at all if any of these risks apply to you.
What is the Mortality Rate related to Two Jaw Surgery in the US?
The mortality rate in the US has not been fully studied. The most recent study, published by a Korean medical journal, found that 52 percent of patients who underwent double jaw surgery had experienced complications within three years following their operation.
Oftentimes, double jaw surgery patients are left with breathing and swallowing problems due to the removal of their mandible. Most fatalities occur as a result of septic shock, which is triggered by bacterial infection.
The most common jaw surgery complication in the US was that patients reported difficulty swallowing food following their operation – even if it’s pureed. This can lead to choking and aspiration pneumonia as well. Patients also may experience pain around their neck area during oral movements or have dental wires placed too close to nerves due to improper positioning of the lower jaw bone. With so many risks and side effects that plague this lower and upper jaw surgery, individuals interested should know of some safer alternatives to take.
What are Safer and Less Disruptive Options?
If your goal is improving facial asymmetry and appearance without major lower or upper jaw surgery, other less-invasive treatment options can be considered instead of two jaw surgery:
If you’re looking to improve your appearance around the mouth, Botox injections are a safer option than double jaw surgery. The FDA-approved treatment is injected into certain muscles that cause wrinkles near the corners of the lips and between eyebrows. It can provide temporary improvement in facial appearance – which may be all some patients need for their desired outcome. It also provides relief for jaw joint pain TMJ disorders (temporomandibular joint disorder) which is a chronic condition that causes the jaw to lock and doesn’t respond well to traditional treatment.
Chin Implants (Augmentation Chin Surgery)
A chin implant can be a safer option for patients who are interested in modifying the shape of their chins. The FDA-approved device is placed beneath the skin and, when implanted correctly, results in a more prominent jawline – which can provide an overall smoother profile to your face, similar to a full cosmetic facelift. Chin implants also offer less disruption than double jaw surgery since it does not require any cutting or reshaping of the bone.
Dental appliances like braces can help align your teeth to their natural position so that you won’t need lower jaw or upper jaw surgery for them to fit properly together.
As a medical procedure, double-jaw surgery is serious business. For those “shopping” around for a plastic surgeon or planning a “medical vacation” in a foreign country to have double jaw surgery for cosmetic reasons on the cheap, think twice and consult first with a qualified facial cosmetic surgeon closer to home.
With safer alternatives available, it’s best to consult with a professional before opting for double jaw surgery. Patients need to know what their goals really are before selecting a treatment option, and so we recommend you set an appointment with your doctor or oral and maxillofacial surgeons for further evaluation.