Dr. Stephen Schendel
Plastic, Maxillofacial and Sleep Surgery

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Orthognathic Surgery

Orthognathic Surgery in Palo Alto, CA

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Orthognathic surgery is a group of specialized procedures that correct jaw and bite disorders, and complex conditions that affect the structure of the face. It is a corrective jaw surgery that is prescribed for skeletal and dental disparities to restore both function and aesthetics. In most cases, when a condition is too severe or complex to be treated by a dentist or an orthodontist, an orthognathic surgeon is called upon to correct the problem. Typically, bones are cut and realigned and then held in place as part of the surgery using screws and/or plates. Menlo Park maxillofacial and plastic surgeon, Dr. Stephen Schendel, is a jaw surgery expert who has trained extensively to correct jaw disorders. He is a renowned expert in the field who has invented tools and techniques that are now adopted worldwide. 

What It Treats

Orthognathic surgery is not only used to enhance the beauty of a smile, but more importantly is used to correct facial skeletal deformities and airway problems. Conditions treated by orthognathic surgery include:

  • Facial Disharmony
  • Sleep Apnea Conditions
  • TMJ Conditions
  • Severely Crooked Teeth
  • Facial Structure Deformities
  • Weak, Limited Cheek Bone
  • Underbites and Overbites
  • Gummy Smile
  • Cleft Palate

Types of Orthognathic Surgery

Upper Jaw Surgery

Referred to as a maxillary LeFort osteotomy (surgery of the upper jaw), this technique is used for patients who have severe misalignment of the teeth and jaw, as well as midface hypoplasia. These conditions lead to an underdeveloped upper jaw and weak cheekbones and are usually too complex to be addressed by a dentist. Technique varies from patient to patient but it is generally done in segments, where the upper jaw is surgically sectioned and repositioned. Plates are used during the surgery to hold the new positioning into place. There are variations to the LeFort procedure. Some variations are used to correct the misalignment as mentioned above, while others address conditions such as a cleft palate, upper jaw fractures and other midface deformities. The surgery can also increase the width of the arches if necessary. 3D imaging is used to help project an accurate outcome of how the face will look after surgery.

Lower Jaw Surgery

Lower jaw surgery is referred to as bilateral sagittal split osteotomy (BSSO). This procedure is designed specifically for the mandible (lower jaw). Used to correct protrusions of the lower jaw or other deficiencies, BSSO can help move the jaw forward or backward by splitting it bilaterally. Plates and screws help to keep the surgical changes in place. This surgery corrects lower jaw conditions and changes the look of the jaw and lower face so that facial harmony is balanced and stronger.

During/After Surgery

Orthognathic surgery is performed in-house in our accredited surgical facility. General anesthesia is used during this procedure and it can take anywhere from 2-4 hours to be completed, depending on how severe or complex the condition is. Once the bones of the chin, upper jaw, and/or lower jaw are repositioned, they may be held in place with small titanium screws and plates. Patients who fear that their mouths will be wired shut should not worry; this does not occur with jaw surgery. Rather, rubber bands or a dental splint are used to guide the patient into a new bite. This surgery requires approximately 6 weeks of limited activity. A specific post-operative program, including a diet (foods to eat while healing), will be provided.

Expected Cost

The cost for orthognathic surgery will vary. It can run as low as $7,000 and as high as $20,000 or more. In some cases, depending on the condition and if a medical issue is resulting, insurance may cover a portion of the procedure. During your initial consultation, our team of insurance coordinators will confirm if insurance benefits can apply to your specific procedure. 

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Average Cost  
$4,000 - $25,000
Recovery Time  
2-3 Weeks
Average Procedure Time  
2-4 Hours
Procedure Recovery Location  
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Jaw Surgery FAQs

What Should I Expect?

Our office takes great care in improving the surgical technique by coordinating pre-calculated phases prior to surgery. The pre- and post-surgical phases require imaging, articulated mounting of casts, bite registration, intermediate splint fabrication, and segmental mechanotherapy (braces). These scheduled activities can reduce the overall treatment time by more than 50%. It also helps to produce the best possible outcome for each patient.

How Will I Look?

Proprietary 3D imaging helps to create a virtual patient from scans to simulate surgery, allowing us to visualize the surgical results and collaborate on the outcome prior to surgery. This technology is accurate and also helps to calm the fears and nerves of our patients.

What Improvements?

Successful orthognathic surgery eliminates pain, restores function, improves quality of life and boosts self-esteem for the patient, but it can also improve his or her dental health. This surgery eliminates abnormal wear and forces on the teeth, making it easier for patients to brush and floss their teeth, and allows them to maximize the effectiveness of their home care as well as the benefits of regular professional cleanings.

Can I Eat?

Eating after jaw surgery is difficult, especially in the early recovery phase. Most patients will find that they lose an average of 5-10 pounds after surgery. The first several weeks will be a liquids-only diet. This includes anything that can be pureed or blended in a blender. After the 3rd week, we recommend patients eat soft foods that can be easily smashed or squished with a fork. During the 6-8 week mark, some patients can begin to chew soft foods that are cut into small pieces. Every patient recovers at a different speed. The most important advice is to not rush the eating process, and follow the post-operative protocol instructions that will be given by our office.

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*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.