You have been scheduled for an operation on your parotid/submandibular gland. The parotid and submandibular glands are salivary glands that produce saliva for lubrication of the oral cavity. These glands may need to be removed for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is the presence of either a benign or malignant tumor. The majority of tumors in the paotid and submandibular glands are benign. However, this diagnosis cannot be made until the gland containing the tumor has been removed. Occasionally the gland may be also removed if it has a chronic infection that has not responded to the antibiotics prescribed by your provider.
A parotidectomy is performed through a long incision that begins in front of the ear and follows the ear to the backside of the ear lobe and down the upper part of the neck. After the skin is elevated, the facial nerve is identified. This is the major nerve that controls the movement of the facial muscles. In addition to a small branch of the facial nerve, the nerves that help move the tongue and provide sensations for the tongue are also nearby. The parotid gland is carefully dissected. If you are undergoing an excision of the submandibular gland then the gland is removed through a three inch incision, placed on the upper neck. Following surgery a small plastic drain will be inserted in the wound and removed one to two days later.
What should I expect after surgery:
- If the tumor is found to be malignant, additional treatment may be necessary.
- Your incision needs to be kept dry and coated lightly with an ointment for 48 hours. If there are no signs of infection, the incision may be exposed to water during bathing. The sutures will be removed during your post-operative visit. Your pathology results will be reviewed at that time.
- Discomfort after surgery should be mild to moderate and be controlled by Tylenol or a mild narcotic.
- You should contact the office immediately if you develop signs of infection.
- All strenuous activities should be completely avoided for two weeks after surgery. Bending, stooping, heavy lifting, or sex should be avoided for 14 days post-operative.
As with any surgery procedure, complications can occur:
- BLEEDING: Bleeding is very rare, but the face has a very good blood supply and bleeding could develop either during surgery or afterwards. This may require another operation or a blood transfusion (very rare).
- INFECTION: Infection is uncommon but can result in significant problems. Signs of infection, including progressive pain, fever, chills, redness, swelling and drainage, usually occur three to four days after surgery.
- NERVE INJURY: Nerve injury is another concern. Either temporary or permanent injury to the nerves may occur. Nerves that move the facial muscles are very sensitive to surgical manipulation and may become temporarily bruised. This may require six weeks to six months for a return to normal function.
- NUMBNESS: Numbness around the incision may persist indefinitely.
If there are any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call the office at 607-753-6560.