(Superficial Parotidectomy; Total Parotidectomy)
by Marjorie Montemayor-Quellenberg, MA
Parotidectomy is surgery to remove all or part of the parotid gland. These glands make saliva. They are located in the jaw, in front of and below each ear.
Reasons for Procedure
The surgery is done to:
Your doctor will review problems that may happen during or after the surgery such as:
Talk to your doctor about factors that increase the risk of complications, such as:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Before the surgery, your doctor may:
Tell your doctor about any medicine, herbs, or supplements you are taking. Some may need to be stopped up to 1 week before the surgery.
Be sure that you have a ride to and from the hospital.
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep during the procedure.
Description of the Procedure
A cut will be made in front of the ear and down into the neck. There are many nerves nearby. They will be located to decrease the risk of accidental damage.
There are 2 types of parotidectomy surgery. The type you will have depends on why the surgery is being done.
After all tissue has been removed, the area will be closed with stitches. A drain will be placed behind your ear. It will allow fluids to drain from wound and help healing.
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. The area will be sore after the surgery. Medicine will help manage discomfort.
Average Hospital Stay
You may be able to go home the same day. You may need to stay longer if there are any complications.
At the Hospital
After the surgery is over, you will be moved to a recovery room. The care team will monitor you. The staff will:
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
You will need to take it easy for the first few days. Certain actions like strenuous activity will need to be avoided. You will also need to follow care instructions for the drain.
Call Your Doctor
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications such as:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
American Cancer Society
Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology
Chronic recurrent parotitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dyname.... Updated May 28, 2015. Accessed December 28, 2018.
Salivary gland tumors. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated January 15, 2017. Accessed December 28, 2018.
Parotidectomy. Memorial Sloan Ketterin Cancer Center website. Available at: https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/types/salivary-gland/salivary-gland-cancer-treatment/parotidectomy-parotid-gland-tumor-surgery. Accessed December 28, 2018.
Last reviewed June 2018 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 12/28/2018
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