Parotid Surgery

Your questions answered

What is it a parotid?

The parotid is one of the large salivary gland that lies in the cheek area just in front of the ear. Its job is to produce saliva to help keep the mouth moist and aid the swallowing of food. Sometimes lumps can form within the parotid gland and need to removed for diagnosis and to prevent them getting larger. They are almost always benign.

Who does the operation?

This procedure is carried out by our two specialist Head and Neck consultant Mr John Waldron and Mr Stuart Gillett. The procedure is under a general anaesthetic and commonly takes from 2-3 hours.

Before the operation

You can help to ensure success of your operation and avoid complications by following a few simple steps.  Stop smoking (if you do) at least 4 weeks prior to the procedure.   Maintain a healthy weight and taking regular exercise.

Its important to inform our surgeons if you are taking any blood thinning tablets such as aspirin, warfarin, clopidogril, apixaban, rivoroxiban and dabigatran.

The operation

The facial nerve (the nerve that moves the muscles of the face) runs through the middle of the parotid gland. The procedure starts by finding the facial nerve and following it to protect the nerve as the lump is removed – our surgeons are aided by machines that monitors the nerve. A small plastic drain is placed at the end of the procedure to remove any blood or fluid that may collect afterwards. Patients commonly stay overnight for the procedure.

Weakness to the nerve of the face is not common but can happen particularly if the lump is very large. It will almost always recover with time and permanent weakness is very rare. Saliva can sometimes collect under the skin forming a swelling – this will often settle in the space of a few weeks. The procedure is not overly painful – in fact most patients have numbness over the earlobe and side of face – this is common and does settle with time.

In time the scar heals very well, some patients notice an element of sweating on the side of the face when eating – something called “freys syndrome”. This is rarely problematic but can be dealt with if so.

After the operation

After the operation you should aim to take a week off work to recover. We would not recommend driving for 1 week and patients should ensure that they are safe/able to move their neck without pain before doing so.

Is a follow up appointment required?

A follow up appointment will be made with your consultant to discuss the histology from the operation and to monitor your recovery.