What you should know
A parotidectomy is surgery to remove part or all of your parotid gland. Your parotid glands are found in your cheeks, over your jaw, and in front of your ears. They release saliva into your mouth through the parotid duct. Saliva helps break down food and protect your teeth.
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- You may bleed more than expected or develop an infection. Your facial nerves and muscles may be damaged. You may not be able to move parts of your face. You may have bruising and pain in your face and neck. You may have a dry mouth, trouble chewing, and you may sweat when you eat. You may have numbness or tingling around your ear. You may develop a large scar. An abnormal opening may form near your wound and cause saliva to leak out.
- Without surgery, your symptoms may get worse. You may lose feeling in your face and have trouble chewing and swallowing. The shape of your face may change. If you have an infection or tumor, it can spread to other parts of your body.
Before your surgery:
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
- Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
- Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
- Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
- You may need an ultrasound or CT scan of your parotid gland. Talk to your caregiver about these or other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location for each test.
The night before your surgery:
Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.
The day of your surgery:
- Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Caregivers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.
- You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
- Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
- An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.
What will happen:
An incision will be made above your ear and along your hairline to remove part of your parotid gland. A larger incision will be made above your ear and along your jaw if all of the gland is removed. Your surgeon may make another incision in your neck to remove any growth that has spread there. One or more drains may be placed in your wound to remove blood and extra fluid. A muscle flap may be needed to close the incision if it is large. A muscle flap is a piece of muscle taken from another body area. Your incision will be closed with stitches or staples and covered with a bandage.
After your surgery:
You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Caregivers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. When your caregiver sees that you are okay, you will be able to go home or be taken to your hospital room.
Contact a caregiver if
- You cannot make it to your surgery.
- You have a fever.
- You get a cold or the flu.
- You have questions or concerns about your surgery.
Seek Care Immediately if
- Your symptoms get worse.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.