What are Parotid Tumors?
The parotid glands, located on the side of the face just in front of the ears, are essential for salivary production, chewing, swallowing, digestion, and cleansing. As a part of the 6 major salivary glands, these glands have ducts that secrete saliva directly into the mouth.
Both benign and malignant tumors can develop from salivary gland tissue, including the parotid glands. Approximately 80% of tumors within the parotid gland are benign, while 20% are malignant. If there is suspicion of a tumor or concern for cancer, a fine needle aspiration, a type of biopsy, may be recommended before surgery. This procedure can be performed in our office or at the hospital, with ultrasound guidance if needed. While not always definitive, the biopsy can provide valuable information that may influence the extent of surgery.
Most masses in the parotid gland are removed due to known malignancy, suspected malignancy, or the potential for future conversion to cancer. Once the tumor is removed, it will be sent to the lab for further analysis to determine the tumor type and whether it is benign or malignant. Results typically return within 7 days.
Parotid gland surgery is performed under general anesthesia. In most cases, patients can return home on the same day of the surgery. However, in some instances, an additional procedure called a neck dissection may be necessary, which could require 1-2 nights of hospital stay. The surgical procedure typically takes 1-3 hours, during which an incision is made in front of the ear, extending downward to the jaw and sometimes into the neck, depending on the size and location of the tumor. This incision is similar to a facelift incision, ensuring minimal visibility and excellent healing.
Potential Risks of Surgery
While parotid gland surgery is generally well-tolerated, there are potential risks to consider. Facial nerve injury is a possibility, which may result in temporary weakness or inability to move certain parts of the face. However, permanent paralysis is rare. Ear numbness is another temporary side effect, caused by intentionally cutting the sensory nerve that controls sensation to the ear during surgery. This does not affect hearing and typically resolves within six months. Other less common risks include bleeding, infection, fluid buildup, or excess facial sweating.
Post-Operative Care and Recovery
Pain after surgery is usually limited and can be managed with over-the-counter medications like Tylenol or ibuprofen, or with prescribed narcotics for a few days. At-home care primarily focuses on wound and drain management, and our dedicated team will provide you with comprehensive instructions before you leave the facility. Recovery from parotid gland surgery typically takes 1-2 weeks, and our office will support you throughout recovery.
Accurate Diagnosis and Expert Parotid Gland Surgery
You benefit from accurate diagnosis, expert surgical techniques, and comprehensive post-operative care by choosing Century ENT for your parotid gland surgery. Our skilled team is dedicated to your well-being and will guide you through the entire process. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward effective treatment and recovery.