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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- A parotidectomy is surgery to remove a part, or all of one of your parotid glands. Your parotid glands are found in your cheeks, over your jaw and in front of your ears. Your parotid glands are one of the glands that release saliva (spit) into your mouth. You need saliva to help with chewing and swallowing. You may need a parotidectomy to remove a growth. The growth in your gland may be caused by an infection, inflammation (swelling), or a tumor (lump of tissue). In most cases a tumor growth is not cancer (benign). The growth may cause you to have pain and swelling in your face. The growth may cause facial numbness (loss of feeling), or decreased movement in parts of your face.
- Before having a parotidectomy, imaging tests may be done to help plan your surgery. The amount of your parotid gland that will be removed depends on where the growth is found. During surgery, your caregiver will check if your growth has spread to other areas, such as your neck. Having a parotidectomy may decrease your symptoms such as pain and numbness. Removing your growth may return your facial movements, such as smiling or blinking. If you have cancer, surgery may prevent it from spreading, or from coming back.
Take your medicine as directed.
Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
- Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
- Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
- Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.
Ask your caregiver when to return for a follow-up visit. You may need a follow-up visit to remove the stitches from your surgery. You also may need imaging tests, such as an ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The imaging tests may be needed to check if your growth has returned. Keep all appointments. Write down any questions you may have. This way you will remember to ask these questions during your next visit.
Eat a variety of healthy foods from all the food groups every day. Include whole grain bread, cereal, rice, and pasta. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, including dark green and orange vegetables, and legumes (dry beans). Include dairy products such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. Choose protein sources such as lean meat and poultry (chicken), fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Ask your caregiver if you need to be on a special diet.
Lower your cholesterol:
Cholesterol is the fat found in your blood. Having high cholesterol may increase your risk for getting parotid growths. Ask your caregiver for more information about ways to keep your cholesterol levels normal.
Eye care with facial nerve paralysis:
If your facial nerve was damaged, or removed during surgery you may have trouble moving parts of your face. You may have trouble blinking or closing your eyes. You may need eye drops, eye ointment, or eye bandages to prevent dryness and damage. Ask your caregiver about these and other treatments you may need if you have facial nerve paralysis.
After having a parotidectomy, your sweat glands may not work as they did before your surgery. Gustatory sweating may occur when you eat. Your face may become sweaty, red, and you may get a rash when you chew your food. Medicine injected (shot) into the area, or taken by mouth may help decrease these symptoms. Ask your caregiver for more information about gustatory sweating and its treatment.
Treatment for cancer:
If your parotidectomy was done to remove cancer, you may need cancer treatment after your surgery. Ask your caregiver for more information about the following treatments for cancer:
- Radiation: Radiation shrinks tumors and kills cancer cells with x-rays or gamma rays. Radiation may be given after surgery to kill cancer cells that were not removed. It may also be given alone or with chemotherapy to treat cancer.
- Chemotherapy: This medicine, often called chemo, is used to treat cancer. It works by killing tumor cells. You may need chemotherapy if your parotidectomy was done for a recurrent growth. Chemotherapy also may be used to shrink lymph nodes that have cancer in them. Many different chemotherapy medicines are used to treat cancer. You may need blood tests often. These blood tests show how your body is doing and how much chemotherapy is needed. Chemotherapy can have many side effects. Caregivers will watch you closely and will work with you to decrease side effects.
Keep the area of your wound clean and dry. Ask your caregiver when and how you should change your bandages.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You have a fever.
- You have pain in the area of your wound that does not get better with rest or medicine.
- Your wound is warm, red, or swollen.
- You feel a new lump in your face or neck.
- You have decreased or no feeling in your ear when you touch it.
- You have new trouble chewing.
- Your face becomes red and sweaty when you eat.
- Your mouth is very dry all the time.
- You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
- You have questions or concerns about your surgery, treatment, or care.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You have a sudden loss of feeling in your face.
- You have foul smelling drainage coming from your wound.
- You suddenly cannot move a part of your face.
- You suddenly have trouble swallowing.
- Your wound is bleeding and will not stop.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
- You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
- Your arm feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
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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.