Facial Nerve Recovery After Parotidectomy
A parotidectomy is a surgical procedure used to remove a parotid gland tumor. Typically, a tumor makes an affected parotid gland appear larger than ever before. A parotid gland tumor also generally appears on a single gland as a growth on the jawbone.
At the first sign of a parotid gland tumor, it is important to seek immediate medical treatment. That way, an individual can limit the risk of parotid gland tumor growth, as well as associated pain and loss of movement in a part or all of the impacted side of the face. Additionally, with support from expert facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Babak Azizzadeh, an individual can minimize risk throughout a parotidectomy.
Dr. Azizzadeh is Director of The Facial Paralysis Institute, and he is world-renowned for his facial plastic and reconstructive surgery expertise. By working with Dr. Azizzadeh, an individual coping with a parotid gland tumor can receive comprehensive support at all stages of treatment. Dr. Azizzadeh also helps a parotidectomy patient plan ahead for the recovery cycle.
What to Expect After a Parotidectomy
Dr. Azizzadeh outlines the risks of a parotidectomy prior to surgery. This ensures that a parotidectomy patient knows what to expect when he or she undergoes treatment.
Facial nerve injury is a common risk associated with parotidectomy. If the facial nerve is injured during parotidectomy surgery, a patient can experience partial or total facial paralysis. With partial facial paralysis following a parotidectomy, some of a patient’s facial nerve branches are damaged. Comparatively, with total facial paralysis, the primary trunk of the facial nerve and all facial nerve branches are damaged.
Parotidectomy patients can experience temporary or permanent facial paralysis after surgery. Temporary facial paralysis occurs if the facial nerve is stretched during a parotidectomy; the length of time a patient experiences temporary facial paralysis varies based on the severity of his or her facial nerve injury. Meanwhile, permanent facial paralysis occurs if the facial nerve is cut during a parotidectomy.
If a patient experiences facial paralysis after a parotidectomy, treatments are available to address this problem. In some instances, a masseter to facial nerve transfer is used to improve facial reanimation. This procedure involves sewing together a patient’s facial and masseteric nerves to restore the facial muscle function. In other cases, cross facial nerve grafts are used to enhance facial movement in the paralyzed side of a patient’s face.
The right treatment for a facial nerve injury after a parotidectomy varies based on the patient and the severity of his or her post-surgery symptoms. To determine the best way to correct facial paralysis, Dr. Azizzadeh performs an in-depth patient assessment. The evaluation allows Dr. Azizzadeh to analyze the severity of a patient’s facial paralysis symptoms and other factors.
Next, Dr. Azizzadeh offers a personalized treatment plan to ensure that a patient can address his or her facial paralysis symptoms.
Ultimately, when it comes to avoiding facial nerve injury following a parotidectomy, the expertise of the surgeon performing the procedure is a key factor to consider. Dr. Azizzadeh is highly sought-after for parotidectomy surgery, thanks in part to his extensive facial plastic and reconstructive surgery and head and neck surgery experience. He dedicates time and resources to help parotidectomy patients limit risk and achieve the best results of treatment. Plus, Dr. Azizzadeh explains the risk of facial nerve injury after a parotidectomy, along with other risks associated with this surgery, including:
- Salivary Fistulas: Salivary fistulas refer to abnormal connections between the salivary gland and skin through which saliva is discharged. They are rare but can form if saliva stays in place at the parotidectomy incision site or drains through a surgical incision.
- Frey’s Syndrome: Frey’s syndrome is a rare condition that causes sweating, flushing and redness in the cheek. It is one of the most common long-term complications associated with parotidectomy surgery.
- Hematoma: A hematoma is a collection of blood that forms under a patient’s skin.
In addition to explaining parotidectomy surgery risks, Dr. Azizzadeh also describes how to care for an incision after treatment. Dr. Azizzadeh creates an incision when he cuts into a parotidectomy patient’s body tissue. Following a parotidectomy, Dr. Azizzadeh provides instructions to care for the incision to prevent infection. These instructions include:
- Keep the incision site moisturized. Azizzadeh recommends applying an antibiotic ointment to parotidectomy incisions at least twice a day in the initial days after surgery.
- Use medication as directed. Azizzadeh sometimes recommends a patient take over-the-counter or prescription medications to help alleviate post-parotidectomy pain; any medications should be taken as directed by Dr. Azizzadeh.
- Take showers, not baths. Azizzadeh recommends parotidectomy patients avoid baths and swimming until their surgical wound is fully healed.
Also, Dr. Azizzadeh provides insights into times when a parotidectomy patient should reach out for additional medical support following surgery. A parotidectomy patient should seek medical care if he or she is dealing with any of the following issues after surgery:
- Redness, swelling or pain around the treatment site that persists despite the use of medication
- Drainage, blood or pus emanates from a surgical wound and continues for one day or longer
- A patient develops a fever that exceeds 101.5°F and experiences muscle aches or chills
Finally, if a patient experiences difficulty breathing after parotidectomy surgery, he or she should call 911 or go to an emergency room. This enables a parotidectomy patient to receive medical support so he or she can quickly and safely treat this issue.
Schedule a Facial Paralysis Treatment Consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh Today
For individuals who experience facial paralysis that lingers for eight months or longer after a parotidectomy, Dr. Azizzadeh is available to provide treatment options. Dr. Azizzadeh evaluates a patient and learns about this individual’s facial paralysis symptoms, then creates a custom treatment plan for him or her. In doing so, Dr. Azizzadeh enables a patient to receive personalized support to correct his or her facial paralysis symptoms.
Dr. Azizzadeh is happy to meet with an individual to discuss facial paralysis treatment options. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh, please contact us online or call us today at (310) 657-2203.