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. If ice packs are indicated after surgery, our office will provide you with a “Jaw Bra” that holds the ice packs in place for you. Ice packs should be used 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off continuously as much as possible during the first 36 hours. It is not necessary to use the ice packs while sleeping, but patients should sleep with the “Jaw Bra” on, as it acts as a compression dressing to minimize the swelling. If you were not given a “Jaw Bra”, other ideas are zip lock baggies filled with ice, frozen peas or corn, or ice packs, wrapped in a washcloth and applied to the sides of the face where surgery was performed.
After 36 hours, applying ice will not improve or resolve swelling. At this time (36 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 following a 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off schedule 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. Taking Advil, Motrin or Ibuprofen as prescribed 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.
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