Parotidectomy

Parotidectomy is surgery to remove all or part of the parotid gland. These glands make saliva. They are located on your jaw, in front of and below each ear.

  • Call Your Doctor

    It is important for you to monitor your recovery after you leave the hospital. Alert your doctor to any problems right away. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:

    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, a lot of bleeding, or discharge from the surgery site
    • Persistent nausea and/or vomiting
    • Pain that you cannot control with the medications you were given
    • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
    • Spitting or vomiting blood
    • New or worsening symptoms

    If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    Parotidectomy is surgery to remove all or part of the parotid gland. These glands make saliva. They are located on your jaw, in front of and below each ear.

    Salivary Glands
    Nucleus factsheet image
    The parotid gland is the largest of the salivary glands.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Procedure

    The surgery is done to:

    • Remove a tumor in the gland
    • Remove lymph nodes that could be cancerous
    • Treat recurrent infections in the gland

  • Possible Complications

    Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

    • Numbness of the face and ear
    • Damage to the nerve that controls the movement of muscles in your face
    • Saliva drainage—Saliva may pool in the upper neck after surgery. It may also drain through the incision after it has been closed. This is temporary.
    • Frey’s syndrome—This happens when salivary nerve fibers grow into the sweat glands. While eating, some people may notice sweating on the side of the face where the surgery was done.
    • Fistula—This is an abnormal connection that may occur between the mouth, nose, throat, or skin.
    • Infection
    • Bleeding
    • Scarring
    • Swelling of your airway

    Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:

    • Smoking
    • Drinking
    • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes or obesity