The aims of this study were to determine the effects of surgical and conventional orthodontics on patients' body image and self-esteem and the association between personality characteristics and postoperative reports of pain, paresthesia, swelling, and satisfaction among 90 patients who underwent surgical orthodontics. Patients who underwent surgery completed questionnaires before their operations and up to 6 months after surgery. Self-esteem and body image were compared longitudinally between these patients and 33 persons who were undergoing orthodontic treatment only and 33 persons who had decided against treatment. Results suggest that patients' self-esteem, body image, and degree of extroversion are unrelated to postsurgical satisfaction and discomfort. Neuroticism was correlated with satisfaction, so that patients who scored in the higher range on a scale of neuroticism were less satisfied immediately after surgery and at removal of fixation wires. Neurotic patients also were more likely to complain of pain and swelling 6 months after surgery. Surgical patients held a more negative facial image and were more introverted than those in the other two groups but were similar in other personality traits before surgery. Both surgical and orthodontic patients improved significantly in body image over time, with the greatest increase among the former. Similar shifts in self-esteem occurred for the three groups, suggesting that surgery per se may not be the major determinant of longitudinal changes in self-esteem. Notably, the positive effect of surgery and orthodontic treatment on body image is an important motive for many persons seeking treatment. Results of this study provide important insights into how to prepare and counsel patients undergoing orthodontic treatment with and without surgery.