What Are the Risks of Jaw Surgery?

It is important for any patient and their family to know that the benefits of orthognathic surgery far out-weigh the risks in an overwhelming majority of cases. However, surgery is not fail proof. The risks (bad things that may occur, but uncommonly do) depend on surgery type.

Your surgeon will review these risks depending on the type of surgery indicated at the time of informed consent. 

Jaw Surgery Risks by Type

  • Postoperative infection
  • Bleeding
  • Scarring
  • Hardware exposure
  • Unanticipated fractures
  • Tooth loss/tooth injury
  • Failure of bones to heal properly (malunion/nonunion)
  • Return of the bones/teeth to their preoperative position (relapse)
  • Residual abnormal bite (malocclusion)
  • Nerve injury (nerve that controls sensation to the chin)— fails to return in 10-20% of cases
  • Bone loss due to circulatory problems
  • Resorption of the condyle (ball and socket joint of the mandible)
  • Malposition of the condyle requiring a second operation
  • Residual abnormal bite (malocclusion)
  • Injury to salivary ducts
  • Nerve injury (nerve that controls sensation to the lower cheek, upper lip and gums)- typically numbness will last for a few weeks then resolve
  • Bone loss due to circulatory problems
  • Sinus problems (e.g. sinusitis)
  • Speech problems (especially in cleft palate patients)
  • Nasal septal deviation/buckling
  • Nerve injury (nerve that controls sensation to the chin)
  • Contour irregularity
  • Recession of the gums
  • Drooping of the chin due to poor support of the mentalis muscle

Contact Information

If there is an emergency or urgent matter that needs to be addressed right away, please call the UChicago Medicine hospital operator at 773-702-1000 and ask for the plastic surgery resident on call.

For other matters or to set up an appointment, please call our craniofacial clinic coordinator, or for insurance issues, please call our cosmetic surgery coordinator using the following contact information:

Craniofacial Clinic Coordinator, Heather Bailin, RN BSN, 773-702-6302

Aesthetic Surgery Coordinator, Kelsey Jacobson, 773-795-1240

Request an Appointment

The information you provide will enable us to assist you as efficiently as possible. A representative will contact you within one to two business days to help you schedule an appointment. 

To speak to someone directly, please call 1-888-824-0200. If you have symptoms of an urgent nature, please call your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.

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Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery