Salivary Gland Surgery
The salivary glands make saliva. Saliva is important in breaking down food that you eat. It makes food moist, lubricating it as it passes from the mouth to the gullet. It also contains chemical substances (enzymes) that break down starch and fat in your food.
- The submandibular glands are under the floor of your mouth (one on each side) and drain saliva up into the floor of your mouth.
- The parotid glands lie just below and in front of your ears. Saliva passes down the parotid duct into the inside of your cheeks.
- The sublingual glands are just beneath your tongue.
Performing salivary gland removal may be done for a number reasons including: a non-functioning gland, gland tumors, infections or the occurrence of salivary stones.
Preparing for Salivary Gland Surgery
- Parotidectomy is the removal of the parotid gland, the largest salivary gland. The parotid is usually removed because of a tumor, a chronic infection, or a blocked saliva gland. Most parotid gland tumors are benign and not cancerous. Surgery is preceded by imaging and possibly a needle test of the gland. It is carried out through an incision extending from the ear to the neck, and requires at least one night in hospital.
- Submandibular gland removal: Most commonly carried out as a result of intractable infection from a lodged salivary stone. On occasion it could be carried out to remove a tumour. It is carried out through a neck crease incision and requires at least one night stay in hospital.
- Sublingual galnd removal: Most often carried out as a result of an abnormal collection of saliva in the soft tissue of the floor of the mouth called a ranula. Sometimes, tumours develop from this gland too. This operation is carried out from inside the mouth. At least one nights hospital stay is recommend after this operation.
- Minor salivary glands: Carried out from inside the mouth.
Recovery time after Salivary gland procedures
It is important to be patient when recovering. Your body has just undergone a very large change, and some discomfort is to be expected in the days following your surgery. Our doctors will provide you with a detailed overview of how to properly care for yourself post-surgery.
Complications after surgery to remove Salivary Glands
- Pain usually requiring simple pain killers like paracetamol.
- Scar in the neck, mouth or in front of the ear. Usually blends in with natural skin creases, however on occasion could result in raised and broad visible scars.
- Infection, post-operative infections are rare.
- Nerve damage: could result in altered taste sensation or unpleasant sensations on the tongue. A nerve that moves the tongue and another that moves the lower lip, is at risk of being damaged. Damage to the nerves could on very rare occasion result in an asymmetric smile and a speech impediment.