I'm set to have lower jaw surgery and genioplasty on the 15th of July, and was wandering what people's experiences were of recovery, particulalry for this type of jaw surgery (BSSO). My surgeon is great, but pretty blase about it all, and I get the impression from him that the recovery period will be minimal - he has suggested at least 2 weeks off work. This surprised me a little as googling through pages of other people's experiences, I got the impression recovery took a lot longer. I know it's important to take into account individual differences. My surgeon has said that some people have massive swelling with a lot of bruising, and some people have minimal swelling and bruising, and that it depends on individual differences.
Still, it would be good to hear from anyone who's had this done. I feel a bit in the dark about what to expect after the surgery has taken place.
I had both done in February. My surgeon was also pretty "casual" about it, but this was because he has done several thousand of these procedures over the past decades. Both are common surgical procedures at this point, and the complications of lower jaw surgery aren't quite as bad as with upper.
Overall, the first few days will be hell, with a lot of swelling, and "drinking" through a syringe/tube. You will look all puffed up, so don't even think about trying to judge the results of the surgery. I had a pressure bandage around my head to control the swelling, so you will look like a bruised mummy. After the first week you should see rapid improvement, although you still can't get an adult-sized toothbrush in your mouth -- get a child-sized toothbrush and be gentle. I bought a WaterPik (adjustable to soft stream) for use after my incisions had healed -- very useful once you get the approval to start eating soft foods again (~3 weeks, if I recall).
After 2 weeks, the visible swelling will probably be gone, so you'll be able to go out in public without looking like someone who has lost a boxing match. Actually I was much better after 1 week -- I still knew I had swelling, but the compression bandage was off. One thing I recall was that the compression bandage caused a lot of bruising around my neck, which was ugly. The bruising then moved down to my chest, which was also ugly, but could at least be covered up by a shirt. I wouldn't plan on any plunging neckline type outfits for maybe 3-4 weeks, depending on how quickly it clears up.
I took 2 weeks off work, but have the option to work from home -- which I did, for another few weeks. You'll still be on a liquid diet, which means frequent trips to the blender to keep your energy levels up. You won't be able to open your mouth very much, or clean your teeth as well as you can pre-surgery. You will be sleeping on your back, head elevated, which may or may not affect the quality/quantity of your sleep.
The whole process involved basically zero pain, but you will get bored of the liquid diet pretty quickly. You will experience numbness around your lower jaw, chin and lower lip, which makes it hard to drink without dripping. I'm 5 months post-op, and the numbness is going away -- still partially numb on the left side of my chin, but it doesn't affect the way I look or how I eat/drink.
In hindsight, I probably worried too much about the pain and not enough about coming up with enough variety in the liquid diet -- I was incredibly bored with the same 3-4 recipes. Just expect to be really swollen and miserable the first few days, and you'll be prepared for the worst part.
The results are worth it, though -- great bite, vastly better profile, more balanced face. Now I wish I'd done it 10 years earlier.