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Jaw Wiring for Weight Loss: Is It a Viable Option?

Mark Holland MD

Jaw Wiring for Weight Loss: Is It a Viable Option?

Jaw Wiring for Weight Loss: A Look at Its History and Controversial Nature: Delve into the controversial history of jaw wiring for weight loss, a procedure that restricts food intake by limiting jaw movement. Understand the risks, ethical concerns, and potential alternatives for weight management.

Jaw Wiring for Weight Loss: A Historical Perspective and Analysis


Jaw wiring, also known as maxillo-mandibular fixation (MMF) or dental wiring, is a surgical procedure that involves wiring the upper and lower jawbones together, essentially preventing the person from opening their mouth. This practice was once used as a method for weight loss, as it forced individuals to consume only liquid diets, thereby restricting their caloric intake significantly.

History and Prevalence 

Jaw wiring for weight loss gained popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. While the exact number of people who underwent the procedure is unknown, it is believed that thousands of individuals in the United States and other countries turned to this method to lose weight. The practice was performed by dentists and oral surgeons who specialized in maxillofacial surgery.

Over time, jaw wiring as a weight loss method became less popular due to the development of safer, more effective weight loss techniques such as bariatric surgery, diet, and exercise. Additionally, the numerous risks and complications associated with jaw wiring led to its decline.

Effectiveness and Weight Regain 

The effectiveness of jaw wiring for weight loss is highly variable, depending on the individual's adherence to the liquid diet and their overall health status. Some individuals experienced significant weight loss during the period of jaw fixation, while others saw little to no change in their weight.

Weight regain was common after the removal of the wires, as individuals returned to their previous eating habits. The liquid diet associated with jaw wiring was not sustainable, and many individuals had difficulty adjusting to a healthy, balanced diet post-surgery. Additionally, the lack of a comprehensive weight loss plan that included exercise and behavior modification made it challenging for individuals to maintain their weight loss.

Risks and Complications 

Jaw wiring for weight loss came with a number of risks and complications. Some of these included:


The risk of infection was high due to the invasive nature of the procedure and the potential for food particles to become trapped in the wires.


As the liquid diet was often nutritionally inadequate, individuals were at risk of malnutrition, which could lead to a range of health problems, including muscle weakness, fatigue, and compromised immune function.

Dental health issues:

The inability to brush and floss properly during the period of jaw fixation could lead to dental problems such as gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath.

Jaw pain and muscle atrophy:

Prolonged immobilization of the jaw could cause pain, muscle atrophy, and difficulty in speaking and swallowing.

Psychological issues:

The inability to eat solid foods and socialize during meals could lead to feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety.

Current Status of Jaw Wiring for Weight Loss 

Today, jaw wiring for weight loss is considered an outdated and potentially dangerous method. It is no longer recommended or practiced by healthcare professionals. Instead, more comprehensive and effective weight loss strategies, such as lifestyle changes, medically supervised diets, and bariatric surgery, are preferred.

In some cases, jaw wiring may still be used for medical reasons, such as healing broken jawbones or treating specific jaw disorders. However, these instances are unrelated to weight loss and are strictly for therapeutic purposes.


Jaw wiring for weight loss was a controversial and risky method that gained popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. Despite some initial success in restricting caloric intake and promoting weight loss, the numerous risks, complications, and high rates of weight regain made it an unsustainable and potentially harmful approach.

Today, jaw wiring for weight loss has been largely abandoned in favor of safer, more effective, and comprehensive weight loss strategies. If you are considering weight loss options, it is crucial toconsult with a healthcare professional to determine the best approach for your individual needs and goals. This may include a combination of dietary changes, exercise, behavior modification, and, in some cases, surgical intervention.

It is essential to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to weight loss, and what works for one person may not be suitable for another. It is crucial to prioritize your overall health and well-being when embarking on a weight loss journey and seek professional guidance to ensure that you are pursuing a safe and sustainable path to achieving your goals.

In conclusion, jaw wiring for weight loss serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of resorting to extreme measures in pursuit of weight loss. It highlights the importance of relying on evidence-based, medically supervised methods that prioritize long-term health and wellness over short-term results. The key to successful weight loss is finding a balanced, sustainable approach that supports your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.


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