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Houston Cranio Facial

Orthognathic Jaw Surgery for Cosmetic Reasons: Is It Dangerous?

Recently, we’ve seen quite a few new patients who want corrective surgery after undergoing cosmetic orthognathic jaw surgery. These surgeries include: chin reduction, chin augmentation with implant, cheekbone (zygoma) reduction, jawline reduction, and other significant jaw repositioning surgeries. There has been a boom in cosmetic surgery in South Korea where celebrities have chosen to undergo a full cosmetic makeover to change their appearance. We aren’t just talking about improving wrinkles and minor adjustments, but significant changes to the face where someone is no longer recognizable as they once were.

Orthognathic surgery is an intensive and radical surgical procedure to correct malocclusion and maxillomandibular deformities. It is used for a number of purposes, including relieving jaw pain or repositioning teeth that are causing difficulty chewing. When these types of surgeries are used for cosmetic reasons, people may not fully understand the risks involved. In addition, patients are seeking out these procedures from surgeons in another country who are not providing patients with fully informed consent of the risks involved. They are also not discouraging patients from undergoing an operation which may change their appearance for the worse. Some of the complications we have seen in our office after someone has undergone jaw surgery for cosmetic reasons include: abnormality of the jawline, numbness of the lips and teeth, weakness of the muscles in the face from nerve injury, aging of the face from reduction of the zygoma or cheekbones, V-shaped face after chin and jawline reduction, chronic jaw pain, and injury to the teeth (requiring root canal).

A significant amount of preparation is necessary for orthognathic jaw surgery to be successful and avoid the above complications. First of all, patients require a thorough evaluation in the office, including a CT scan of the face to assess the bony structure. The bone is the foundation that gives the face its shape. When that bony foundation is altered, the shape of the face begins to change. This can affect not only the jawline, but also the surrounding structures—including the shape and position of the nose, cheeks, neckline, lips, and eyelids. A team approach is necessary in most cases because an orthodontist is necessary to align the teeth prior to jaw surgery. Some procedures do not require orthodontia or braces.

When seeking jaw surgery for cosmetic reasons, it can be safe if you choose the right surgeon.  We recommend finding a surgeon who is board-certified and understands what your concerns are for improving your facial features. Dr. Eric Payne is experienced in treating jaw deformities and enhancing aesthetic appearance with cosmetic surgery. He understands the risks and benefits involved, as well as the potential abnormal effects after undergoing orthognathic jaw surgery. He is board-certified in plastic surgery with additional training in craniofacial reconstructive surgery. This makes him truly qualified to address any facial and jaw deformities.  He focuses on an individualized plan for each patient, rather than a routine procedure for all patients, which sets him apart from the cosmetic jaw surgery factories in South Korea.

Contact our office for a consultation with Dr. Payne.