Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Parotidectomy: Before Your Surgery
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

Parotidectomy: Before Your Surgery

What is a parotidectomy?

Parotidectomy is the removal of the parotid gland. This gland is found below the ear. It makes saliva. The saliva enters the mouth through a tube (duct) near the back teeth.

The gland is taken out to remove a blockage in the parotid duct. This can be caused by a stone, scarring, or a tumour. Most tumours that grow in the parotid gland are benign, meaning they are not cancer.

You will be asleep during the surgery. The doctor will take out the gland through a cut (incision) in your neck and in front of your ear. The incision usually heals without leaving an obvious scar.

You will likely have a tube called a drain placed behind your ear. This lets fluid out of the incision. Your doctor will probably take this out a few days after your surgery.

Your doctor will tell you if you need to come back to have stitches taken out.

You may be able to return to work or your normal routine after a few weeks. How long it will take depends on several things, such as how much tissue was taken out, how quickly you recover, and the kind of work you do.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What happens before surgery?

Preparing for surgery

  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your surgery. You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before surgery. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. Bring a copy to the hospital. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors advise that everyone prepare these papers before any type of surgery or procedure.

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You will be asleep during the surgery.
  • The surgery will take about 3 to 4 hours.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your surgery. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

Enter H726 in the search box to learn more about "Parotidectomy: Before Your Surgery".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.