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What is a Jaw Reduction?

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  • Written By: Misty Wiser
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A jaw reduction is a surgical procedure that reduces the size of the mandible, or jawbone, to give the appearance of an oval-shaped face. Plastic surgeons shave part of the jawbone and remove part of the muscles in the jaw to streamline its look. Some people have an oversized jaw because of an enlarged masseter muscle, the muscle involved in chewing, and a non-surgical option is available to reduce the size of the muscle, making the jaw line appear smaller.

Jaw reduction plastic surgery normally can be done in an outpatient setting. The patient is put under anesthesia before the procedure begins. The plastic surgeon then makes an incision through the lower gum line, to hide any scars that may form as a result of the surgery. Part of the masseter muscle is removed during the surgery. The jawbone is shaved on the sides and toward the back of the bone, giving the jaw a smaller, more oval appearance.

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After the surgical procedure, compression wraps will be placed around the face to reduce swelling and bruising. These wraps can be removed after one to two days. The facial swelling may last three to four weeks after the plastic surgery. A liquid diet will likely be necessary for the first week, followed by soft foods for the next two weeks. Most people can return to their normal activities after a few days, though the results of the jaw reduction will not be visible until all the swelling is gone.

The surgical jaw reduction is an invasive surgery, and the recovery time can be very painful. It is important to open and close the jaw daily, even though it will be difficult to do for two to three weeks. The surgical incision site on the gums needs to be kept clean to avoid infection; this can be done with regular use of a mouthwash. Complication of the jaw reduction can include excessive bleeding and an adverse reaction to the anesthesia.

People who want a jaw reduction without surgery can opt for an injection of the botulinum toxin, or Botox®, into the masseter muscle. The injection weakens the muscle so it atrophies over a period of three to six months, giving the jaw a smaller appearance. The injections may have to be repeated to maintain the results. There is no recovery period for this jaw reduction process, though results may not be visible for up to three months.

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