Orthodontic Health

Plate Removal After Jaw Surgery – My Experience

December 8, 2018

6 months after my double jaw surgery, I had the plates (and screws) removed in a second surgery. I didn’t really know what to expect going into the second surgery. I wished back then that there were more reports from people who have gotten their plates removed, so I thought I’ll create an article, since I have it behind me now.

Disclaimer:
I am not a medical professional and do not pretend to be one. I am simply sharing a personal experience of mine in this article. Please consult a medical professional for advice on any health problems that you might have.

Why I got the plates removed

The plate removal post jaw surgery is done routinely in Germany (where I lived at that point) and not just in case of complications, as it seems like is the case in the US. It is usually recommended here to remove the plates 6-8 months post jaw surgery and not later than 1,5 years, since the bone starts growing over the plates after that and it gets more complicated to get them out. I did not like even a small chance of future complications and the thought of having foreign objects attached to my skull permanently, so I followed my surgeon’s recommendation and got the plates removed.

The fact that the plate removal surgery is also much less of a big deal than the double jaw surgery itself in terms of complexity, duration and recovery, made the decision to go for it easy for me.

The aftermath

Me directly after the plate removal surgery.

Day 0 – Nausea again

When I woke up, I felt pretty nauseous just as after the first surgery. I swallowed a lot of blood during the surgery and spend the first day puking up blood. That was not fun at all and then, as with the first surgery, I started swelling up in my face.

Day 2 – Peak swelling

At around 48 hours post plate removal, the swelling reached it’s peak. This was a lot faster than with the double jaw surgery, where it took 72 hours to reach peak swelling. So I swelled up a lot faster, but the swelling also came to a halt earlier and started going down much quicker and was completely gone around 2 weeks later – which was nothing compared to the 6 months it took to swell down after double jaw surgery.

Me on day 2 post plate removal surgery, day 4 and day 10.
Plates and screws that were removed.

Swelling post plate removal surgery vs post double jaw surgery

The biggest difference was that my throat and the inside of my nose were not really swollen so I could still breathe quite easily. Based on my experience with the double jaw surgery this was my biggest fear going into this and luckily it did not happen.

Peak swelling after plate removal (left) vs peak swelling after double jaw surgery.

Numbness

I also experienced a bit of numbness on the right side of my face, in the shape of a small circle around my nose and upper lip – but that went away pretty quickly.

Limited mouth opening

My mouth was not wired together after the plate removal as with the double jaw surgery, but my ability to open my mouth was limited slightly again. That went away after a couple of weeks though.

Diet post plate removal surgery

Just as with the first surgery, I had to adjust my diet. I had to eat only soft foods for 2 weeks after the plate removal. This was nothing compared to the 2 months of strict liquid diet after the double jaw surgery though. Plus my mouth was not wired shut and my jaw was almost just as flexible straight after the plate removal as before.

Duration of hospital stay

I was in the hospital for three days (vs 8 days after double jaw surgery). The duration of the hospital stay seems to be quite long inGermany compared to the US though.

Stitches

2 weeks after the plate removal the stitches got removed, which was far from as painful and without any complications as with the first surgery.

Benefits

I dealt with a lot of upper gum sensitivity around my upper gums after the double jaw surgery. Brushing my teeth was particularly painful – with the pain shooting up from my gums up into my nose. The sensitivity notably decreased after the plates were removed and is now more concentrated on a small area above my upper canines and no longer shoots up into my nose. I also feel like I am less puffy around the nose. Best of all though, it feels amazing to know that there are no foreign objects attached to my skull.

So overall, I must say the plate removal surgery was a walk in the park compared to double jaw surgery. The benefits were also worth a second surgery and I am happy I went through with it.

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  1. Hello, I just wanted to say thank you for posting this. I’ve had multiple surgeries on my jaw following a car accident as a child and next month will be undergoing surgery to remove the plates and screws which has since caused me a lot of problems. Unfortunately this surgery was never an option at the time in the UK, but now living abroad and it seems like much like in Germany, it’s routinely offered here. Feeling rather nervous as mine has been there for between 13 and 29 years so I know it might not be quite so straight forward as yours, but I’m relieved to here the recovery isn’t going to be nearly as bad. X

    1. Hi Hayley, I was wondering if you had your surgery done already. Only because like you, I have the plates in for a bit more than 10 years and now they are causing an infection and have to be removed. I think I’m more scared now than when I initially had the surgery. I would appreciated if you can let me know, I’ll definitely like to know what lies ahead. Best wishes Alexandra.

  2. I had jaw surgery in Canada 20 years ago. Just my bottom jaw. Having the plates removed was never given to me as an option. I now live in England and a couple weeks ago my screw started poking out on the inside of my jaw. I completely freaked out and I am now waiting to see a maxillofacial surgeon in size weeks! Thank you for the article. I haven’t been able to find anything remotely similar to my situation, and I am a nervous about the whole thing!

    1. I have had jaw surgery 3 times. I felt a sore spot on my left upper cheek just under my left eye last November, It became more tender and I noticed and bump there. As it turns out, one of the screws in my plates is starting to work its way out. My dentist was very alarmed and I saw an oral surgeon in March. I’m finally having surgery this Tuesday, July 16 to have that plate and the screws in it removed. I only have 2 weeks off of work so I’m hoping recovery will be decent.

  3. Thank you very much for sharing your experience. I will be going for plate removal very soon . And I’m post double jaw surgery 1.5years ago.

  4. I had upper jaw surgery last summer and am considering having the plates removed because I look quite puffy still around my nose. Did you find having the plates removed made a difference in that puffiness? Can you tell me a bit more about your experience in that regard? It really bothers me and makes me look much less attractive.
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It’s so helpful.

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