Parotidectomy is surgery to remove all or part of the parotid gland. These glands make saliva. They are located on your jaw, in front of and below each ear.
The parotid gland is the largest of the salivary glands.
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The surgery is done to: Remove a tumor in the glandRemove lymph nodes that could be cancerousTreat recurrent infections in the gland
If you are planning to have a parotidectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include: Numbness of the face and earDamage to the nerve that controls the movement of muscles in your faceSaliva drainage—Saliva may pool in the upper neck after surgery. It may also drain through the incision after it has been closed. This is temporary.Frey’s syndrome—This happens when salivary nerve fibers grow into the sweat glands. While eating, some people may notice sweating on the side of the face where the surgery was done.Fistula—This is an abnormal connection that may occur between the mouth, nose, throat, or skin.InfectionBleedingScarringSwelling of your airway
Having risk factors for heart disease can increase your risk for
during or after surgery. They include:
High blood pressureIncreased ageSmokingDiabetes
Discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.
Before the surgery, your doctor may: Do a physical exam and review your medical history
Order blood tests and have
Talk to you about any medications, herbs, and dietary supplements that you may be taking—You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure, like:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofenBlood-thinning medicationsAnti-platelet medications
Be sure that you have a ride to and from the hospital the day of your surgery.
will be used. It will block pain and keep you asleep through the surgery. It is given through an IV or nasal mask.
The doctor will make a cut in front of the ear and down into the neck. The nerves in the area will be located and protected during surgery. There are two types of parotidectomy surgery. The type you will have depends on why the surgery is being done.
If you have a tumor and it is above the facial nerve, then a superficial parotidectomy is done. The tumor and affected tissue can usually be removed safely without harming the nerve.
If you have a tumor that surrounds or grows into the facial nerve, a total parotidectomy is done. The tumor, affected tissue, and parts of the nerve are removed.
After all tissue has been removed, the area will be closed with sutures. A drain will be placed behind your ear. It will be used to remove any fluids, such as blood and saliva, from the wound.
Superficial parotidectomy—3-4 hoursTotal parotidectomy—5 hours
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. Pain or soreness during recovery will be managed with pain medication.
This procedure is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is one day. If you have any problems, you will need to stay longer.
After the surgery is over, you will be moved to a recovery room. The hospital staff will monitor you. The staff may: Check your facial movements by asking you to smile or poutShow you how to care for the drain, because you will have it when you go home
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Follow your doctor's instructions for keeping the wound clean. This may include changing bandages.
Follow the instructions for caring for your drain. It will usually be removed in 2-4 days.You may also need to return to the hospital to have the sutures removed. This may be in 4-6 days. When the sutures are out, clean the area with mild soap and water.Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs: Signs of infection, including fever and chillsRedness, swelling, increasing pain, a lot of bleeding, or discharge from the surgery siteNausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medications you were givenPain that you cannot control with the medications you were givenCough, shortness of breath, or chest painSpitting or vomiting bloodNew, unexplained symptoms
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Last reviewed July 2013 by Marcin Chwistek, MD; Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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