Definition & Overview

Jaw contouring is the process of removing a part of the lower jaw to make the lower part of the face look narrower. It is an elective cosmetic surgery that involves the reduction of mandible muscles and shaving off the sides of the jawbone. The procedure is often taken advantage of women who have a square lower jaw with the goal to achieve softer features and a more feminine appearance.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

Jaw contouring is an elective procedure and can be taken advantage of:

  • Women who have naturally squarish jawline and who desire to have a V-shaped lower jaw
  • Men who are undergoing gender reassignment. Removing a part of the jaw is an essential step for them to achieve a feminine and womanly appearance

All candidates for jaw contouring or reduction should be of legal age, with no serious medical condition. They should also be psychologically and mentally fit to undergo such a radical procedure, as this process can impact several aspects of their lives.

The procedure is considered generally safe, with high satisfaction rating. Most patients achieve the feminine facial profile they desired with the effects of the procedure completely noticeable after four to six months. Older patients may need to undergo facelift a few months after to remove excess skin in the surgical site.

How is the Procedure Performed?

Following the administration of general anaesthesia, the surgeon makes an incision inside the mouth, in between the cheek and the gum, to access the mandible, which is then re-shaped using specialised drills. This process continues until the corners are rounded and reduced in size. In some cases, a part of the mandible muscles, called the masseter muscles, is also removed or reduced. Once the desired size and shape of the jaw have been achieved, the incision is closed with sutures and a drain tube is left inside the surgical site to prevent fluid accumulation.

The procedure can also be performed outside of the mouth and would involve an incision (about 5cm) in the outer corner of the jaw line to access and cut the muscles surrounding the mandible. A part of the bone is then cut using a medical saw and a part of the masseter muscles is removed. Just like in the first technique, the incision is closed with sutures and drain tube is left in place for several days.

Following the procedure, the patient can expect the following:

  • A few days of hospitalisation for close monitoring
  • Soft diet within the first two weeks to facilitate fast healing and recovery
  • A follow-up visit to the physician’s office for the removal of the drain tube and evaluation of the outcome of the procedure
  • Prescription of pain medication to address pain and discomfort that could last for several days
  • Avoidance of strenuous physical activity

Possible Risks and Complications

Just like in any surgical procedure, patients who undergo jaw contouring face the risk of developing an adverse reaction to anaesthesia and infection during and after the procedure. Pain is expected, as well as swelling and bruising of the surgical site for a few days.

In some cases, the patient may find that the changes are not symmetrical and that one side of the jaw appears bigger than its counterpart. This may cause additional distress and may necessitate another surgical procedure to make the jaw line look more even and uniform.

Bleeding can also occur and in rare cases, may lead to blood clots. This is one complication that can be avoided with the use of the drain tube.

There is also the possibility of injuring or damaging the facial nerves, especially if the incision is made outside the mouth. Though a rare occurrence, it can cause numbness in the jaw while severe damage can cause temporary or permanent paralysis.


  • Morris DE, Moaveni Z, Lo LJ (2007). "Aesthetic facial skeletal contouring in the Asian patient". Clin Plast Surg 34 (3): 547–56. doi:10.1016/j.cps.2007.05.005. PMID 17692710.

  • Jump up ^ To EW, Ahuja AT, Ho WS, et al. (2001). "A prospective study of the effect of botulinum toxin A on masseteric muscle hypertrophy with ultrasonographic and electromyographic measurement". Br J Plast Surg 54 (3): 197–200. doi:10.1054/bjps.2000.3526. PMID 11254408.

Jump up ^ Jin H (2005). "Misconceptions about mandible reduction procedures". Aesthetic Plast Surg 29 (4): 317–24. doi:10.1007/s00266-004-0111-8. PMID 15959692.

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