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Laryngectomy is the removal of all or part of the voice box (larynx). The voice box is in the neck and contains the vocal cords. It also helps you swallow and breathe.
After surgery, the area around the cut (incision) may be swollen or bruised. It may also feel numb. This is common and may continue for a few weeks. You will probably need to take pain medicine for a few weeks.
You may have a drain tube in your neck for 1 to 4 days after your surgery. You may have trouble swallowing for several days after you go home. Also, you may have numbness in your neck and weakness in your face. Most of this goes away in 3 to 4 months.
For 2 to 3 weeks, you will either get food through a tube that goes into your nose and down your throat to your stomach, or through a tube that goes directly into your stomach. Your doctor will give you detailed information on what and how you can eat using the feeding tube.
Your ability to talk will depend on how much of your voice box was removed. If all of it was removed, you will need to learn new ways to communicate. If only a part of your voice box was removed, you may be able to talk after your throat has healed. Losing your ability to talk can be very upsetting and hard to accept. It can affect your self-image and lead to depression. If you need help after surgery, you may want to consult with a counsellor.
If all of your voice box was removed, you will have a hole in your neck to help you breathe. This is called a stoma. A doctor or nurse will teach you how to care for the stoma.
Most people go back to work or to their normal routine 6 to 8 weeks after going home. You will need more time to get better if you must have more treatment for cancer, such as chemotherapy.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
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.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: December 2, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
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.
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