What Is Orthognathic Surgery (Jaw Surgery)?

Jaw surgery (also known as orthognathic surgery) realigns the jaw to improve the bite and refine facial balance and appearance. The surgery may include moving the top jaw (maxilla), bottom jaw (mandible) and/or the chin. Surgery that involves repositioning or reshaping the chin to improve facial harmony is called genioplasty. Orthognathic surgery can be done safely by an experienced team, and can result in a dramatic improvement in patients’ oral function and facial aesthetics.

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Craniofacial surgeons with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth who are affiliated with Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital are fellowship trained and work as part of the multidisciplinary Texas Cleft-Craniofacial Team. Founded in 1952, the team is one of the longest-running craniofacial teams in Texas, combining physicians affiliated with Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, UT Physicians and McGovern Medical School.

The main goals of orthognathic surgery are to achieve a normal bite, a harmoniously balanced face and an enlarged airway. Successful outcomes after jaw surgery require a close working relationship between the patient’s parents, orthodontist and craniofacial surgeon.

Congenital Conditions That May Require Orthognathic Surgery:

  • Cleft lip and palate
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
  • An unbalanced facial skeleton
  • Hemifacial microsomia
  • Orthodontic cases that cannot be corrected with braces
  • Treacher Collins syndrome
  • Jaw growth disturbances
  • Craniosynostosis syndromes
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Malalignment of the facial skeleton leading to open bite, overbite or underbite

What To Expect With Orthognathic Surgery

Typically, patients see an orthodontist for braces to straighten the teeth prior to surgery; a process that may take several months to 2 years. Surgery is performed when the orthodontic work is done and the child reaches facial maturity, which is ages 15 to 16 for girls and ages 17 to 18 for boys. Your child’s surgical team will make dental impressions to aid in planning surgery, and will perform a trial surgery using either dental casts or virtual surgical planning.

Surgery is performed under general anesthesia, and typically requires a one- to two-night stay at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. Your surgeon will talk with you about the benefits and risks of surgery. After surgery, patients are placed on a liquid diet and then a soft diet for a period of several weeks. Complete healing may require 2 to 3 months. Patients will also need to wear new braces for several months to a year, for fine-tuning of the bite.

Contact Us

If you have any questions, use the online tool below to help us connect with you. To schedule an appointment, please contact our clinic using the information below.

Texas Cranio-facial Team and Pediatric Plastic Surgery Clinic
6410 Fannin Street, Suite 950
Houston, TX 77030

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery Clinic: (832) 325-7234
Texas Cranio-facial Team: (713) 500-7302
Vascular Anomalies Team: (832) 325-7234

Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Monday-Friday except major holidays)

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