Marjorie Montemayor-Quellenberg, MA
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.
The surgery is done to:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
Before the surgery, your doctor may:
Be sure that you have a ride to and from the hospital the day of your surgery.
will be used. It will block pain and keep you asleep through the surgery. It is given through an IV or nasal mask.
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.
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
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.
After the surgery is over, you will be moved to a recovery room. The hospital staff will monitor you. The staff may:
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:
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
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:
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
Dictionary of cancer terms: parotidectomy. National Cancer Institute website. Available at:
http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary/?CdrID=44770. Accessed July 23, 2013.
Ghorayeb B. Parotidectomy: frequently asked questions. Otolaryngology Houston website. Available at:
http://www.ghorayeb.com/parotidectomyfaq.html. Updated May 24, 2013. Accessed July 23, 2013.
Parotidectomy. MedStar Georgetown University Hospital website. Available at:
https://www.medstarhealth.org/Pages/Services/Ear-Nose-and-Throat/Surgery-and-Treatment/Parotidectomy.aspx. Accessed July 23, 2013.
Surgical procedures: Neck dissection. Greater Baltimore Medical Center website. Available at:
http://www.gbmc.org/body.cfm?id=198. Accessed July 23, 2013.
Last reviewed May 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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