Post-Surgical Instructions-Swelling

Swelling around the mouth, cheeks, eyes and sides of the face is part of the body’s normal reaction to surgery and eventual repair. The swelling is usually proportional to the surgery involved and may not become apparent until the day following surgery.  Swelling will reach its maximum 2-3 days after the surgery.  Post-operative swelling may be minimized by the immediate use of ice packs. Ice packs should be used 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off continuously as much as possible during the first 36 hours.  If ice packs are indicated after surgery, the packs and a compression dressing will be provided by the office to patients after their procedure.  If those packs are not available, “baggies” filled with ice, frozen peas or corn or ice packs can be wrapped in a washcloth and applied to the sides of the face where surgery was performed.  It is not necessary to use the ice packs while sleeping, but patients should sleep with the compression dressing. 

After 36 hours, applying ice will not improve or resolve swelling.  Thirty-six hours following surgery, the application of moist heat to the sides of the face is beneficial in reducing swelling and jaw stiffness   The ice packs provided by the office can be used as heat packs by heating them in hot water.  Be careful that the packs do not get hot enough to burn the skin.  The packs can be used with the compression dressing 20 minutes on and then 20 minutes off as much as possible.  It is common for swelling or jaw stiffness to persist for several days. This is no cause for alarm and is also a normal reaction to surgery. Advil, Motrin or Ibuprofen can also help to improve swelling and jaw stiffness.   If swelling worsens after the first three days or if there are concerns about swelling, patients should contact the office for further instructions.