Salivary gland surgery

The salivary glands produce saliva, which keeps your mouth moist and helps to break down food. The main glands are located in three areas; in front of your ears, below your jaw and under your tongue, there are also many smaller glands located in your mouth and throat.

You may need to undergo salivary gland surgery if you have developed a lump or tumour, if a duct within the gland has become blocked, or if you are producing too little or too much saliva.

Salivary gland sub-mandibular surgery

Sub-mandibular glands are located under each side of the jawbone.
The procedure will be carried out under general anaesthetic, and you will need to stay in hospital for at least one night. During the procedure a cut is made across the neck, the gland is removed and stitches are used to close up the cut.

Salivary gland (parotid) surgery

The parotid glands are located on either side of the face, in front of the ears, by the jaw.

The procedure will be carried out under general anaesthetic, and you will need to stay in hospital for at least one night. A cut will be made from the ear, down the neck and underneath the jaw line, allowing the surgeon access to the gland. The gland, or part of the gland, is removed and the cut is closed up with stitches.

When will I recover?

It may be difficult to eat and drink for the first few days after the surgery, and it may be recommended that you don't eat. It usually takes about a week for recovery, although complete healing will take longer. It is usual to have a follow-up appointment after a month or two, to discuss the success of the surgery.

What risks should I know about?

As with all surgery, there are some risks associated with salivary gland surgery. You may experience bruising, swelling and pain, and may lose some sensation of taste. Other complications include infection, or a build-up of saliva under the skin.

Specifically for sub-mandibular surgery, there is a risk of nerve damage, as the incision will be made close to three nerves that control feelings in your lip and tongue. If these nerves become damaged, you may experience a numbness or loss of feeling in these areas, however this is usually temporary.

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