How long does the surgery take to perform? A typical neck dissection takes 2-3 hours.

What is the recovery time like? Typically patients are back to normal and feeling well after 4-5 days.

Will I need to stay overnight in the hospital? Neck dissection will require an overnight stay.

Any dietary restrictions after the surgery? None. You may eat and drink normally after your surgery.

Can I speak after surgery? You may use your voice immediately after the surgery.

Will I be sent home with any medications? You will be given pain medications and antibiotics.

What types of activities can I perform after surgery? I would not recommend heavy lifting or straining immediately after surgery. You can resume heavy lifting and straining 1 week after surgery.

When do I come in for my follow-up visit? You should be seen 1-2 weeks following surgery.

Will my stitches need to be removed? All the stitches will be dissolvable, and we do not need to remove any of them.

What are the risks of neck dissection? Aside from possible bleeding and infection, the major risks of neck dissection depend on the levels of the neck which require removal. In a competent surgeon’s hands, these risks are in the single digits. You should consult with your surgeon to understand the risks.

There are several practitioners in my area who perform this type of surgery. How should I choose one? Are there questions I should ask during the consultation?

There are a few things to consider when deciding on a surgeon.

Ask how many neck dissections the surgeon has done during the past three months to get a sense of his/her experience. Dissecting the neck safely and thoroughly is technically challenging. So make sure that you choose someone who has the requisite technical skills.

Ask if your surgeon is fellowship trained in head and neck surgery. There are many competent parotid surgeons who have not had fellowship training. Nevertheless, this is something that allows you as a patient to understand how up-to-date your surgeon is with new techniques. You can safely assume that a head and neck fellowship trained surgeon is doing parotidectomies on a regular basis.

In the end, the decision to choose a surgeon is a very personal one. Don’t be rushed through the pre-operative consultation. Make sure that you can trust what your surgeon has to say, make sure that you have adequate time to get an answer to all of your questions, and make sure that you have been able to establish a rapport with the surgeon.