Cosmetic Jaw Surgery Overview

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The defined jaw is synonymous with confidence, character and conviction. For those with a weak jaw, which can portray an unbalanced facial structure, jaw augmentation can help. Jaw augmentation is a medical procedure in which synthetic or biological implants are used to make the jaw appear more prominent. This procedure can create a greater sense of balance in a face, and a more defined jaw.

Jaw implant surgery patients commonly undergo multiple procedures in addition to the jaw implant. These procedures may include chin augmentation, cheek augmentation and rhinoplasty. A qualified jaw augmentation surgeon will be able to examine the facial structure of the patient and determine which procedures are necessary to achieve the desired effect.

Are You A Candidate For Jaw Augmentation?

The first and most important thing to take into consideration when determining candidacy for jaw augmentation is your health. Jaw augmentation candidates should be in good overall health and free of any active diseases or other pre-existing medical conditions. These conditions will make it difficult for patients to endure the surgery and jaw augmentation recovery period. The healing process can be difficult and tedious and requires a great deal of patience and mental strength. Patients undergoing jaw augmentation surgery also forgo solid foods and some liquids for a short period of time. In some cases, a period of depression follows the surgery. For these reasons, candidates should be mentally and emotionally prepared when making the decision to undergo a jaw augmentation to ensure this temporary depression does not worsen a pre-existing mental illness.

Individuals who are considering a jaw augmentation should also set realistic expectations before undergoing this procedure. The patient should discuss the desired results with the surgeon to ensure the goals can be attained through surgery. The patient and the surgeon can examine before and after jaw surgery pictures to be sure they are in agreement regarding the desired appearance.

Patients must also be free of bone disorders and have not used Accutane in the past six months. Accutane produces excessive facial bone growth which could complicate the jaw augmentation surgery. Accutane also makes excessive scarring more likely.

Finally, it's important to note that medical insurance will not likely cover the costs associated with this type of procedure, which leaves the patient responsible for the jaw implant cost.

How Jaw Implants Are Performed

Understanding the jaw augmentation procedure is the first step toward actually having the surgery. The surgery will take approximately one to two hours to complete. Other procedures, such as a rhinoplasty or facelift, may be performed in conjunction with the jaw implant surgery which will lengthen the duration of the surgery.

There are multiple phases involved in the process of jaw augmentation. These phases include:

Preparation: During the jaw augmentation preparation phase, the surgeon marks the patient with a permanent marker during this phase to indicate where the incisions will be made. The location, length and direction of these incision lines will be dictated by the technique being used. Incisions are usually made on either side of the lower lip during a jaw augmentation. During this time the patient will also be scrubbed with an antimicrobial agent such as betadine to minimize the possibility of infection. The hair is either cut or secured in a way to ensure it will not impede the surgeon's movement during the procedure. The patient is then given injections of lidocaine and epinephrine. The lidocaine is a pain reliever and the epinephrine is a vasoconstrictor which prevents excessive bleeding during the surgery.

Anesthesia: The choice of anesthesia should be discussed between the patient and the surgeon prior to the surgery date to ensure this decision is given proper consideration. The options include an oral sedative or an intravenous (IV) sedative. Even if it is not used for anesthesia, the IV will be used to maintain hydration levels or to administer medications during the jaw augmentation procedure. Some surgeons may opt to administer only a local anesthetic and a sedative if the jaw augmentation is the only procedure being performed. However, if other procedures are being performed in conjunction with the jaw augmentation, the surgeon may recommend general anesthesia. After administering the anesthetizing agent, the surgeon will test the patient to determine when they are sufficiently anesthetized before beginning the procedure.

Surgical Procedure: The surgical procedure phase for a jaw augmentation begins after the anesthesia is administered. Monitoring pads are attached prior to beginning the surgery to allow the surgical team to monitor vital statistics during the operation. During the procedure the surgeon will carefully follow the pre-marked incision lines. Depending on the type of procedure, the surgery may involve separating the skin and the muscle from the skull, removing excess skin or fat, and placing implants in an ideal location. The implant may be either screwed or sutured into place. In some instances the facial implant may not be secured. In this case the patient will have to wear a head wrap designed to keep the implant in place until the surrounding collagen secures the implant.

After the surgical actions have been taken, but before the incisions are closed, the surgical team will perform a sponge and instrument count. Once all of the materials are accounted for, the incisions are closed by applying tissue glue or using sutures and staples. A dressing is then applied to protect the wounds, keep the tissue securely in place and reduce swelling. 

Recovery: During the recovery phase, the patient is awakened and moved to a recovery room where nurses monitor vital statistics for approximately two hours. The patient may experience a number of sensations during this time including, but not limited to, discomfort, emotional anguish, nausea or uncontrollable shivering. The hospital staff can assist by supplying pain relievers, anti-nausea medications, warm blankets and other amenities.

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