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by Chwistek M

(Superficial Parotidectomy; Total Parotidectomy)


What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Before the surgery, your doctor may:
Be sure that you have a ride to and from the hospital the day of your surgery.


General anesthesia will be used. It will block pain and keep you asleep through the surgery. It is given through an IV or nasal mask.

Description of the Procedure

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.

How Long Will It Take?

  • Superficial parotidectomy—3-4 hours
  • Total parotidectomy—5 hours

How Much Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.

Average Hospital Stay

Most will go home the day after surgery, once they are able to eat and walk around on their own. Some may need to stay longer if there are any complications.

Post-procedure Care

At the Hospital
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 pout
  • Show you how to care for the drain, because you will have it when you go home
Preventing Infection
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks
  • Keeping your incisions covered
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
  • Washing your hands often and reminding your healthcare providers to do the same
  • Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
  • Not allowing others to touch your incision
At 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 doctor 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.


American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery

American Cancer Society



Canadian Cancer Society

Canadian Society of Otolaryngology



Dictionary of cancer terms: parotidectomy. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Accessed July 23, 2013.

Ghorayeb B. Parotidectomy: frequently asked questions. Otolaryngology Houston website. Available at: Updated May 24, 2013. Accessed July 23, 2013.

Parotidectomy. MedStar Georgetown University Hospital website. Available at: Accessed July 23, 2013.

Surgical procedures: Neck dissection. Greater Baltimore Medical Center website. Available at: Accessed July 23, 2013.


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