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Parotidectomy

Parotidectomy is surgery done to remove all or a part of your parotid gland. The parotid gland is a gland that makes saliva (spit). You have one in front of each ear. Saliva helps break down the food you eat. 

In some cases, after taking out a parotid gland tumor, the facial nerve may be weakened short-term or, very rarely, long-term. The facial nerve is the nerve that controls your ability to close your eyes, raise your eyebrows and smile. The facial nerve goes through your parotid gland and divides it into 2 lobes: a superficial lobe (closest to your skin) and a deep lobe. 

What to Expect

You will have stiches to close your incision. The stitches will be removed at your first post op visit. 

You may have a drainage tube in place. The drainage tube may be removed the next day. You may still have drainage from the old drain site for the next day or two that may look blood-tinged to yellowish straw-colored. You may have a pressure dressing in place.

There is a chance you will have some numbness, tingling, or decreased feeling around the site. You may also have decreased movement of the muscles on that side of your face. This is due to swelling and is short-term, so it should improve. Your doctor will tell you if surgery has any lasting effect on the facial nerve. You may have numbness of the ear lobe that may be permanent.

You can expect soreness when you chew foods. You may want to eat softer foods, so you don’t have to chew as much. You may also want to take your pain medicine about 30 minutes before eating to help reduce the pain.

Incision Care

Your surgeon will tell you how long you should keep a pressure dressing in place, if one you have one. You can apply a gauze bandage to the drain site until there is no more drainage.

You may shower 24 hours after the drainage tube has been removed. Wash around the incision gently with soap and water, rinse and pat dry. Your surgeon will tell you if you should apply white petroleum jelly (Vaseline®) to your incision.

Check your incision for any sign of infection. 

Activity 

For 1 week keep your head raised at least 30° when you lie down. Use at least 2 pillows to raise your head.

Avoid strenuous activity for the first 2-4 weeks. No jogging, aerobics, swimming, or lifting more than 25 pounds.

Pain 

The amount of pain after surgery varies for each patient. We will give you a prescription for an opioid pain medicine. Do not drive or drink alcohol while taking any opioid pain medicine.

Do not take aspirin, ibuprofen, or other blood-thinning products until your doctor says you can.

Do not use a heating pad because it may burn your skin. 

When to Call 

  • Extreme bleeding, bleeding that soaks a gauze dressing in 10 minutes or less and keeps soaking the gauze dressings for one hour.

  • Fever greater than 100.5º F for two readings taken 4 hours apart.

  • Pain that is not relieved by medicine.

  • Any signs of infection. Watch for spreading redness, increased swelling, pain, fever/chills or pus like drainage from the surgery site.

  • Increased swelling of your face or neck.

  • Any changes in facial movement (e.g. facial droop on one side that wasn’t present after surgery or is worse than it was at first).

  • If you have new eye irritation or not able to close your eye.

  • Any questions or problems once you are home.

Who to Call

ENT Clinic, Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, (608) 263-6190.

After 5 p.m. or weekends, the clinic number will give you the paging operator. Ask for the ENT doctor on-call. Leave your name, area code and phone number. The doctor will call you back. 

If you live out of the area, please call:

1-800-323-8942.

If you are a patient receiving care at UnityPoint – Meriter, Swedish American or a health system outside of UW Health, please use the phone numbers provided in your discharge instructions for any questions or concerns.