Will Mandibular Advancement Surgery Affect Jaw Growth Later?

Q: Dear Dr. Eppley, I am a 19 year old male. I am having a 5 mm lower jaw advancement (BSSO). I know that the human jaw and chin and other facial bones continue to grow until around age 25. I also know that after surgery, the doctors screw and bolt your jaw into a new position. Would this mean that since my jaw would be screwed and bolted in its new position that my jaw will not be able to grow anymore? Will I have my 19 year old jaw all my life? The reason I ask this is because I have a small jaw, and I want it to keep growing as much as it can, but I am afraid that this surgery I am having in a few months will stop the growth of my jaw.

A: Jaw (mandible) growth in a male is known to not stop growing until at least age 21 or so. That is the reason any form of jaw surgery, mandibular advancement or mandibular setback, is not usually done until age 17 or 18. At this age, one is unlikely to outgrow their surgical result. This is much more of a potential concern when the jaw is set back than when it is moved forward. I have never seen a jaw advancement done where it becomes ‘too short‘ later in life. But I have seen jaw setbacks where the underbite recurs with ongoing jaw growth. This indicates that surgery of the ramus does not really affect jaw growth and I think this is not a concern that you should have.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis Indiana