The skin of the neck will be numb after the surgery, this will improve to some extent, but you should not expect it to return to normal.
Some patients find that their neck is stiffer after the operation.
Sometimes the drain tubes which were put in during surgery can become blocked, causing blood to collect under the skin and form a clot (haematoma). If this occurs it is usually necessary to return to the operating room to remove the clot and replace the drains.
Chyle is the tissue fluid, which runs in lymph channels. Occasionally one of these channels called the thoracic duct leaks after the operation. If this occurs, lymph fluid or chyle can collect under the skin, in which case we need to keep you in hospital longer and sometimes need to take you back to the theatre to seal the leak.
Injury to the Accessory nerve:
This is the nerve to one of the muscles of the shoulder. We try hard to preserve this nerve but sometimes it needs to be removed, because it is too close to the tumour to leave behind. In this case you will find that your shoulder is a little stiff and that it can be difficult to lift your arm above the shoulder. Lifting heavy weights, like shopping bags, may also be difficult.
Injury to the hypoglossal nerve:
Very rarely, this nerve, which makes your tongue move, also has to be removed due to involvement with the tumour. In this case you will find it difficult to clear food from that side of the mouth and it can interfere with your swallowing.
Injury to the marginal mandibular nerve:
This nerve is also at risk during the operation, but we also try hard to preserve it. If it is damaged you will find that the corner of your mouth will be a little weak. This is most obvious when smiling.
Will I need any other sort of treatment?
This will depend on what treatment you have had already, where your tumour is and what type of tumour it is. Sometimes we add radiotherapy to surgery if we think this may give a better chance of a cure.
How long will I need off work?
This will depend on the type of treatment you have had and you should discuss it with your ENT surgeon; but as a general rule you will need at least three weeks off work.
Source ENT : UK
To access the original patient information leaflet on Neck Dissection, visit the ENT UK website where you will find a wealth of information on conditions and procedures relating to ENT.