jaw reduction surgery

What You Should Know About Jaw Reduction Surgery

You might have never thought a jaw reduction is even possible. We can get our noses reshaped, our sagging skin lifted and our facial wrinkles ironed-out. But can we really reshape the hard bony structure that is the human jaw?  Thanks to South Korea’s phenomenally skilled and maverick plastic surgeons, even the jaw can now be reshaped to achieve that feminine jawline that is so integral to beauty.

In most cultures, particularly in Asia, a delicate, oval jaw is considered to be a hallmark of feminine beauty. If you are conscious about your square-shaped or wide jaw, you may want to undergo a procedure known as a jaw reduction surgery to trim your jaw line and make it v-shaped.

But this is not a trivial surgery and it is important that you fully understand what a jaw reduction surgery entails before you opt for it. Your surgeon might ask you to get a CT scan done just so that he is able to understand your facial structure better and can accordingly start planning and mapping your surgery.

What can you hope to achieve with a jaw reduction surgery?

The jaw reduction surgery can help make an overly long jaw shorter and more proportionate with the rest of the facial features as shown below.

jaw reduction

jaw reduction

Pictures Courtesy of Banobagi Plastic Surgery

A jaw reduction surgery can also be used to made a square, wide jaw slimmer and more feminine in appearance as shown below.

jaw reduction

jaw reduction

Pictures Courtesy of Banobagi Plastic Surgery

How is a jaw reduction surgery performed? Let’s dig a little deeper shall we? 

Jaw reduction or jaw shaving, as many may call it, is a surgical procedure that seeks to permanently reduce and reshape the outer jaw to make it more streamlined and proportionate to the rest of the face. This surgery seeks to make a U-shaped jaw into a V-shaped jaw, thus lending a youthful and feminine appearance to your face.

A large jaw is usually a genetically-inherited trait. This means that if a protruding or strong, square jaw line is a common trait in your family, then you are highly likely to develop a large or square-shaped jaw.

However, in some cases, an enlarged jaw could be caused by a condition called Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ), in which you are likely to clench or grind a your teeth at night (a condition known as Bruxism), often due to stress. This repeated clenching strengthens and enlarges your jaw muscles, also known as Masseter muscles, making your jaw look wider – this is somewhat similar to how your muscles grow when you do weight-training at the gym. This enlargement of the jaw muscles is known as “Masseter Hypertrophy” and can also be a result of repeated chewing of gum or even due to dietary habits such as regular consumption of hard, chewy foods that strain the Masseter muscles.

Note that Masseter Hypertrophy can be “unilateral” or one-sided but is more commonly “bilateral” meaning that the enlargement occurs on both sides. Masseter Hypertrophy is generally asymptomatic in nature, implying that it does not cause any problems, in and of itself (although if it is caused by an underlying condition such as Bruxism, then the underlying condition can cause other problems and should be treated). Hence, a reduction of enlarged jaw muscles is typically carried out only for aesthetic purposes.


If a square or U-shaped jaw is the result of enlarged jaw muscles, then the condition is usually treated through non-surgical means. Botulinum toxin, commonly known as Botox, is typically injected into the muscle which limits contractions of the jaw muscles, thereby leading to muscle atrophy or shrinkage, over time. If the enlarged jaw muscle is a result of Bruxism or teeth grinding, then this underlying condition can be treated through stress management, anxiety reduction or lifestyle and dietary changes.

A jaw reduction surgery is generally used to tackle the first of these two cases where a bulky jawbone rather than an enlarged masseter muscle is responsible for a square or heavy jaw.

After you have undergone this surgery, you will notice a more symmetrical and smaller jawline once the post-surgical swelling has subsided. A more proportionate jawline will increase your aesthetic appeal by making you look much youthful and pleasant and hence will boost your confidence.

The advantage of this surgery is that since the stitches are made inside your mouth and are dissolvable so you won’t have any visible scars either.

How do you prepare for a jaw reduction surgery?

Before undergoing a jaw reduction surgery, you will need to follow some steps in order to ensure that you get the best results possible with minimum side effects. Your surgeon will ask you to follow a set of precautionary measures leading up to the surgery, such as:

– Stop consumption of certain medicines which are particularly anti-inflammatory such as aspirin, ibuprofen etc. These result in the thinning of the blood, thereby preventing the clotting of the blood post surgery. Hence you’ll be asked to avoid these at least two weeks before undergoing the surgery.

– Stop smoking as it greatly interferes with the healing process of the body. It also results in death of tissue, around the incision area. You will be asked to discontinue smoking ten to fifteen days prior to surgery.

– You will also possibly be asked to maintain a certain kind of diet before the surgery and be advised to fast ten hours prior to the surgery.

jaw reduction surgery

How is jaw reduction surgery carried out?

The jaw reduction surgery usually takes around an hour and is performed under general anesthesia. It proceeds in the following manner:

– An incision is made inside the mouth between the gum and the cheek next to the jaw.

– A micro-saw or laser law will be used to carve out a desired jaw line and create a well-defined rounded look. Laser is likely to cause less bleeding and causes less damage to neighboring tissues and cells

– Incisions are closed with dissolvable stitches

– You will be discharged in a day or two from the hospital after jaw reduction surgery.

jaw reduction

Pictures Courtesy of Hershe Plastic Surgery

Jaw Reduction surgery aftercare tips

– Maintain a soft diet for seven to ten days; hard foods that require extensive chewing must only be resumed three to four weeks after the surgery

– Clean your mouth regularly with an antibacterial mouthwash

– To prevent swelling, keep your head elevated

– Avoid smoking and drinking until you have completely recovered since that can interfere with the healing process

– Take care while washing your face and hair and make sure you don’t cause any trauma to your mouth or jaw area. You will be advised to wear a jaw-bra or elastic facial dressing which also helps reducing swelling greatly. Continue to wear it at least for the next 24 hours

– Keep your head elevated as much as possible. You may want to use an extra pillow while lying down for that additional comfort and will help with swelling too

– Don’t put much stress on your facial area at least for a month to ensure you don’t hurt yourself and avoid heavy exercising

– Don’t miss the routine follow-up checkups scheduled by your surgeon; this will help ensure that your healing is progressing as planned and help detect any complications during the healing process.

jaw reduction surgery

What are the side effects of jaw reduction surgery?

– Blood clotting around the area. This can be avoided by following the post operative care instructions

– You may experience numbness around the jaw and mouth

– Infection could occur if proper hygiene is not been maintained even though you are often prescribed antibiotics to prevent any post-surgical infection

– Facial paralysis can occur in rare cases if the nerves around the face or jaw are damaged during the procedure

– You may experience pain. Your surgeon might prescribe some painkillers for up to a week after the surgery

– You may develop Seroma. It is a condition characterized by the pooling of fluids beneath the skin, which creates a blister like appearance. Seromas usually dissolve naturally.

– You may develop a Hematoma which is a pocket of clotted blood that collects in an empty or “dead” space in the body and, when close to the surface of the skin, can appear like a swollen bruise. See your surgeon for help as a hematoma needs to be drained as they are painful and cause scarring and infection.

Cost of jaw reduction surgery

The cost of jaw reduction surgery varies widely from country-to-country and based on the extent of the jaw reduction required in each case.

It can range anywhere between $8,000-12,000 in the United States and around $5,300-$9,800 in Korea and just $3,500-$5,000 in Thailand.

In Singapore, the cost can range from $5,000 to as high as $12,000.