Removal of Parotid Gland

  • Reference Number: HEY-181/2018
  • Departments: Maxillofacial Department


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your condition. Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and your doctor, but may act as a starting point for discussion.   If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team caring for you.

What is the parotid gland?

The parotid gland is a salivary gland about the size of a plum that lies immediately below and in front of the ear. The saliva it produces passes through a tube that opens on the inside of the cheek next to the upper back teeth.

Why do I need treatment?

Why does the gland need to be removed? The most common reason for removing the parotid gland is a lump.

Are there any alternatives and what would happen if I have nothing done?

Sometimes it is possible merely to remove the stone. It is not always easy to reach the stone however, especially if it is far back in the duct or in the gland itself. On many occasions the gland may be considered to be too diseased to be left. If ignored you may have further episodes of infection which if severe can be life-threatening however this is rare.

Can there be any complications or risks?

There are complications and risks of this surgery and it is important that you are aware of these and have the opportunity to discuss them with your surgeon.

There will be numbness of the skin particularly of the ear because the nerves supplying sensation are cut in the operation. Some of the numbness fades in the first year, but it is usual for numbness of the ear lobe to remain.

As nerves recover, some patients’ experience sweating or flushing of the skin over the gland especially, when they eat. This is called Frey’s syndrome.

There will be a scar but this is made as invisible as possible by placing incisions in creases. Initially a scar may appear red and lumpy but this tends to fade to a white line after six months.

How do I prepare for the treatment?

Please read the information leaflet. Share the information it contains with your partner and family (if you wish) so that they can be of help and support. There may be information they need to know, especially if they are taking care of you following this examination.

You will be given a letter detailing where you should attend, starving instructions and the time to report to the ward. Staff will greet you and show you around the ward. You will be seen by the doctor and possibly the anaesthetist. The type of anaesthetic you will be having is called a general anaesthetic. You will be prescribed pain relief medication to manage any pain you may suffer following the operation.

You may be required to attend a pre-assessment where the nurse will prepare you for the surgery and you can ask any questions you may have. She will also ensure you are fit for the anesthetic.

What will happen?

The parotid gland is removed under a general anaesthetic, i.e. you will be asleep during the operation. The operation involves a cut around two to three inches long immediately in front of the ear. This cut is extended downwards into the neck and possibly upwards to the temple, where it may be necessary to shave some hair. Once the gland has been removed the incision is held together with stitches. These usually need to be removed about a week after surgery. At the end of the operation a small tube is also placed through the skin into the underlying wound to drain any blood which may collect. This may be removed two to three days after the surgery.

Will anything else be done while I am asleep?

If your gland is being removed because of infection that is caused by a stone it may also be necessary to make a cut inside the mouth to remove that stone. If it is for a tumour, the lymph nodes which filter the lymph from the gland below the jaw may be removed in order to be examined.

How long will the operation take?

Removal of all or part of the parotid gland is a complicated operation which takes approximately three to four hours.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Maxillofacial Unit on tel no: (01482) 463218

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.