What is Maxillofacial Surgery?
Maxillofacial surgery corrects the defects, injuries, and diseases affecting the hard and soft tissues of the maxillofacial (face and jaw)region. The surgery involves the improvement of the functional and aesthetic aspects of the face and jaw.
Indications of Maxillofacial Surgery
Indications for maxillofacial surgery include:
- Facial cyst or jaw tumor
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (dysfunction of the jaw and skull joint)
- Facial bone displacement after facial trauma
- Incorrect jaw alignment
- Facial cosmetic appeal
- Facial pain and infections
- Cleft lip and palate
- Snoring/Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Maxillofacial surgical procedures
The surgical procedures for the maxillofacial region include:
Corrective jaw or orthognathic surgery: This surgery is performed under general anesthesia to correct major and minor defects, like receding or protruding jaw, which can affect your appearance and the functioning of your jaw. Your surgeon will reposition the bones in your upper jaw, lower jaw or chin as per your requirement, and add, remove or reshape the bones. Plates, wires, rubber bands, and screws will maintain the jaw in its new place.
Surgery for facial trauma: Surgery for facial trauma is performed to correctly align the broken bones in the face and allow them to heal. A combination of plating or wiring techniques and multiple incisions may be required for complex maxillofacial fractures. For instance, in case of a broken lower or upper jaw, your surgeon will fix metal braces to the teeth and fasten wires or rubber bands to hold the jaws together. If you have lost most or all of your teeth, you may require dentures (removable plate holding the artificial teeth)or splints (material supporting broken bone) to align and hold the fractures. Your jaws will be wired shut during the healing process.
Facial cosmetic surgery: Facial cosmetic surgery includes many surgical procedures performed to correct physical defects caused due to age, birth defects, injury, and disease. Some of the procedures are cheekbone implants, chin, ear or eyelid surgery, facelift, facial and neck liposuction, forehead/brow lift, lip enhancement, and nasal reconstruction.
Temporomandibular joint surgery: Your surgeon will perform arthroscopy(use of a camera and lighted device to view the inside of the broken joint through a small incision) or perform a direct surgical procedure for repairing the damaged tissue.
Surgery for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea: Sleep apnea can be treated based on the extent of the condition. Your surgeon will first measure your airway for abnormal airflow from your nose to the lungs. Any of the following procedures can be performed depending on the cause of snoring and sleep apnea.
- Your doctor may perform uvulopalatopharyngoplasty to remove extra tissue in your throat and enlarge the airway.
- Hyoid suspension can be conducted to stabilize the airway by securing the hyoid bone (horseshoe-shaped bone in the throat region) to the thyroid cartilage.
- Your doctor may perform a procedure called genioglossus advancement to open up the upper breathing passage. This repositions a muscle of the tongue and reduces the displacement of the tongue into the throat.
- A procedure known as maxillomandibular advancement may be performed to move the upper and lower jaws forward to open the upper airway.
Cleft lip and palate surgery: Your surgeon will close the gap between the mouth and nose, reconnect muscles and shape the mouth. In some cases, your surgeon may use a bone from the hip region to close the area from the nose to the gum tissue in the cleft hard palate.
Post-operative care for Maxillofacial Surgery
Following surgery, your doctor will instruct you to be on a modified diet of solids and liquids. You will have to avoid the use of tobacco products and strenuous physical activities. Your doctor will prescribe medication for reducing pain. Swelling (if any) may subside after 2-3 days; you can place cold packs on the surgical site to reduce the swelling. You can maintain oral hygiene by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water 3 to 6 times a day for one week.
Risks and complications of Maxillofacial Surgery
As with any surgical procedure, maxillofacial surgery involves potential risks and complications. The common complications include:
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in the veins of the leg)
- Pulmonary embolism (blockage of the artery in the lung)
- Nerve injury
- Bone graft rejection
- Functional jaw problems
- Muscular damage