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ANSWERED on Thu 10 Jan 2008 - 3:45 am UTC by byrd

Question: treatments for facial swelling

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 9 Jan 2008 15:39 UTCWed 9 Jan 2008 - 3:39 pm UTC 

this is a repost of my previous question, which I may have canceled too early:

"I'm a healthy 26-year-old who had jaw surgery about six weeks ago where they slid my upper jaw forward a little to correct an underbite.

Everything healed with no complications, but I still have some residual swelling and numbness around my nose, upper lip, cheeks and palate - basically the whole middle of my face. The surgeon says that in most people this takes 2-6 months to clear up completely. My question is: what could I be doing to speed that process up? Currently I'm taking bromelain supplements, which my orthodontist recommended, and using a heating pad occasionally, but it's hard to tell if either is having much effect. For example, I've heard about certain kinds of massage therapy to drain swelling, but I don't know if that would apply to my case. Or are there OTC products that would help?"

I should clarify that I'm not looking for a miracle cure or formal medical advice, just a list of things to try.





 10 Jan 2008 03:45 UTCThu 10 Jan 2008 - 3:45 am UTC 

Dear plewis22,

I'm glad you reconsidered and reposted your question, and thank you for your patience. I certainly have no miracle cures for you, nor even any medical advice. And you should of course clear anything with your doctor before trying it, but there is indeed some information available about some things you might want to look into to try to help reduce your residual post operative swelling, numbness and other symptoms.


First of all, since your surgeon has already recommended bromelain, s/he may also be aware of some other homeopathic and herbal remedies said to help in reducing swelling. Consider asking about

"... used topically for a wide range of conditions, including bruises, sprains, muscle aches, wound healing, superficial phlebitis, rheumatic pain, inflammation from insect bites, and swelling..."
"In Germany, Arnica is known commonly as wundkraut (wound herb), bruchkraut (fracture herb) and fallkraut (fall herb). In the mountains, where the steep paths make falling quite common, it was well-known that an application of fallkraut would help to heal any swelling or bruising to the body."
In addition to health and vitamin store sources for arnica, there is a patent arnica-containing preparation called SINECCH you might like to ask about: http://www.alpinepharm.com/html/oral-surgery.html

Some studies have shown that OPCs (or oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes) derived from grape seeds have favorably affected post surgical edema. " ...  a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 32 people who had received facial surgery, edema disappeared much faster in the group treated with grape seed OPCs." The recommended dosage is 600 mg/day for six months.
http://www.thirdage.com/ebsco/files/21765.html (scroll down nearly halfway)
" Possibly because of their effects on blood vessels, grape seed OPCs can be useful for swelling following an injury or surgery."

HORSE CHESTNUT (Beta-escin or aescin)
" Those suffering edema after surgery have also found relief from topical application of horse chestnut extracts, according to preliminary studies."

This enzyme is similar to Bromelain, but it is derived from the papaya while bromelain comes from pineapples. Some studies have shown that patients given papain by mouth show reduced post operative swelling. Be careful not to use the topical type of papain, which is essentially a meat tenderizer and might not do so well on your face. You might just try some papaya juice for starters.
There is also a preparation called "Clear Ease," which contains a blend of papain and bromelain: http://www.theallergyreliefcenter.com/clear_ease.htm



1) CranioMandibular Rehab, Inc. has published a "Post-Surgical Jaw Care and Rehabilitation" guide which lists a number of other techniques and procedures for relieving discomfort and swelling as well as speeding healing specifically after jaw surgery. These include

Do each for 1 minute, 2-4 times per day:
- Placing thumb inside opposite cheek, massage cheek between thumb and fingers back towards jaw bone in circular motion
- Massage the floor of your mouth, under the tongue
- Place fingertips on either side of head above the ears and massage in a circular motion - - Massage the area between your thumb and index finger
Tongue and Lip Stretching
For each item below, conduct 15 Repetitions, 3 times per day
- Smile and then pucker your lips
- Place the top of your tongue on the roof of your mouth and open as wide as possible.
- Place your hands behind your neck and gently stretch your head backwards over your hands and hold for 5 sec

There are more suggestions in the guide, so you should be sure to visit the site and read all the information.

2) There is another type of massage called "Manual Lymphatic Drainage," which employs special techniques to help drain lymphatic fluid. Excess fluid of course is what is responsible for swelling. It is not easy to find at-home or diy instructions for this, however, as it is mostly a technique used by specially trained massage therapists. There is, however, a little information available if you care to look into it and ask your doctor about it.
Here is a chart showing the lymph system and the location of the lymph nodes:
And this page gives a little information on massage techniques:
This article talks about finding/getting this type of massage, but also has some self-help tips: http://www.ehow.com/how_2126778_get-manual-lymph-drainage.html
However, do be careful if you decide to look into this. Here is some cautionary information from an expert on the use of this type of massage particularly for recovery from your kind of surgery: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Dentistry-966/Manual-Lymph-Drainage-MLD-1.htm


There is some suggestion that using acupressure on the LI4 point on the back of the hand may be of some help for facial swelling. See p. 8 of this document, under section 11, the second entry for more specific instructions. http://www.balanceflow.com/AcupressureSelfHelpNeck.pdf
Another source suggests that stimulation of the LI20 point at the side of the nose might also be helpful for facial swelling.  Scroll down part way to see the illustration.


Some studies and sources have suggested that magnet therapy may be of some use in reducing post operative swelling. "The influence of magnets on the body is remarkably all-inclusive: they affect all systems—circulatory, digestive, nervous, respiratory and urinogenital—and show quick results in all types of pain, swelling....the effect of magnetism reaches every part of the body through the flow of blood, so pain and swelling are reduced."
http://www.lifepositive.com/body/new-age-therapies/magnet-therapy/magnet-healing.asp Along with acupressure, one source suggests placing magnets at certain acupressure points on the face to help with pain and swelling. This site selling a magnet mask has good illustrations of these points:



For swelling after oral surgery, " After the first 24 hours, warm, moist compresses may be applied in the same manner to help hasten the healing process and limit facial swelling." You can use a washcloth or other cloth for this purpose. Be sure it's not hot enough to burn your skin, and apply gently.

Sleep with your head elevated above your heart and hips to minimize fluid retention in your face. Elevate the head of the bed or use extra pillows.

Speed your healing by eating a good, nutritious diet, and consider using some supplements to further supercharge your recovery. 

You might also be interested in forum or discussion group about orthognathic surgery in general, where you can read/discuss posts from members who've had similar experiences to yours. Here are links to a few:

And here are two first hand accounts written by people about their own personal experiences with Orthognathic surgery:


I hope the information provided is helpful and what you were looking for. If not or you need further assistance please ask for a clarification and I'll be happy to respond. Best wishes for a recovery speedier than you hope!





 10 Jan 2008 05:21 UTCThu 10 Jan 2008 - 5:21 am UTC 

thanks -- very informative. i will definitely try some of these...


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