What is submandibular gland removal?

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Submandibular gland removal: Overview

Submandibular gland removal is a type of surgery. It removes a saliva gland below your lower jaw.

You may need this surgery if you have an infection or a tumor. Or you may need it if you have a blocked saliva duct. This duct is a tube that carries saliva from the gland to the mouth.

To do the surgery, the doctor makes a cut in your neck under your lower jaw. This cut is called an incision. Then he or she removes the gland and closes the incision with stitches or glue.

If your saliva duct is blocked, the doctor may also make a small incision under your tongue. Then the doctor can take out whatever is blocking the duct.

You will probably go home on the same day as the surgery. Taking out the gland won't leave you with a dry mouth. Our mouths have many saliva glands.

How can you care for yourself after a submandibular gland removal?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover. For 4 or 5 days after surgery, sleep with your head up by using two or three pillows. You can also try to sleep with your head up in a reclining chair.
  • Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, for 1 week or until your doctor says it is okay.
  • For 1 week, avoid lifting anything that would make you strain. This may include a child, heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, or a vacuum cleaner.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
  • You will probably need to take 1 week off from work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
  • Do not shave the incision for the first 2 weeks or until your doctor says it is okay. It is okay to shave the rest of your neck and face.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.
  • You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fiber supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking a mild laxative.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.

Incision care

  • You may have a bandage over the incision. Follow your doctor's instructions about how to take care of this bandage and when to take it off.
  • If you have strips of tape on the incision, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.
  • After your doctor says it is okay to get the incision wet, wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry. You may cover the area with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.
  • Your doctor may give you other instructions about how to care for your incision. Follow your doctor's instructions exactly.
  • Keep the area clean and dry.

Ice

  • Put ice or a cold pack on the surgery site for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.

How do you prepare for submandibular gland removal surgery?

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

Preparing for surgery

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your surgery. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don’t have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It’s a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

After submandibular gland removal: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain, shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are sick to your stomach or cannot keep fluids down.
  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
  • You bleed through your bandage.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

After submandibular gland removal: Overview

Submandibular gland removal is surgery to take out a saliva gland below the lower jaw. The gland may have been removed because of infection, a tumor, or a blocked saliva duct. A saliva duct is a tube that carries saliva from the gland into the mouth.

The area below your jaw may be sore for several days after your surgery. The area also may be slightly swollen or bruised. It will probably take 1 to 2 weeks for the cut (incision) to heal.

If you have stitches in your incision, your doctor may need to remove them, or they may dissolve on their own. Ask your doctor about this. If your incision was closed with glue, the glue will peel off on its own in the weeks after your surgery.

What happens on the day of submandibular gland removal surgery?

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

At the hospital or surgery center

  • 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 1 to 2 hours.
  • You may have a drain near your incision. The doctor will tell you when it can come out.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.