There is a very important nerve, the facial nerve, which passes right through the parotid gland. This makes the muscles of the face move and if it is damaged during the surgery can lead to a weakness of the face (facial palsy). In most cases the nerve works normally after the surgery. However sometimes (in about 15-20% of cases), where the tumour has been very close to the nerve, a temporary weakness of the face can occur that can last for a few weeks. In 1% of cases there is a permanent weakness of the face following this sort of surgery for benign tumours.
Numbness of the face and ear:
The skin of the side of the face will be numb for some weeks after the operation, and often you can expect your ear lobe to be numb permanently.
A blood clot can collect beneath the skin (a haematoma). This occurs in about 5% of patients and it is sometimes necessary to return to the operating theatre and remove the clot and replace the drain.
In 2-5% of patients the cut surface of the parotid gland leaks a little saliva, in which case this can also collect under the skin. If this happens it is necessary to remove the saliva, usually just with a needle, like a blood test, although it may need to be repeated several times.
Some patients find that after this surgery their cheek can become red, flushed and sweaty whilst eating. This is because the nerve supply to the gland can regrow to supply the sweat glands of the overlying skin, instead of the parotid. This can usually be treated easily by the application of a roll-on antiperspirant.
How long will I be off work?
You will need two weeks off work. You may change your mind about the operation at any time, and signing a consent form does not mean that you have to have the operation.
Source ENT : UK
To access the original patient information leaflet on Parotid Surgery, visit the ENT UK website where you will find a wealth of information on conditions and procedures relating to ENT.