What happens once I am discharged after head and neck surgery?

Most patients will require some assistance after discharge. Home health care is often necessary. Depending on your condition, a short stay at a nursing facility may be an option but most often this is not necessary.

If there is a family member or friend that can help you, your doctor will provide them with instructions regarding your recovery period. If you live alone, you may need some care after your head and neck surgery until you’ll be able to manage on your own. There are support services available for patients in this situation. Typically patients have some side effects from the general anesthesia and the surgery. Expect swelling around the eyes, cheeks, face, and down into the neck and chest after your operation.

Other side effects patients may experience include:

  • pain or discomfort for a few days or weeks after your operation
  • difficulty swallowing and eating
  • aspiration (food/drink going into the windpipe when trying to swallow)
  • change in voice, difficulty with speech articulation
  • changes in sensation or numbness to the skin of your neck and face

Recovery after head and neck surgery

After a major procedure like neck surgery, you’re going to need time to recover. During this time, our doctors monitor your health and ensure you are healing properly. In addition to the severity of your condition and the specifics of your particular procedure, here are two of the most important factors that can affect your recovery:

  • age - younger patients generally recover from surgery faster than older patients
  • health status - patients in better overall condition prior to their procedure — such as those who don’t smoke, are not overweight, and are free of chronic disease — experience faster recoveries

Steps to follow for a better recovery

  • Good nutrition - following a healthy diet plan to help you get back to your normal activities.
  • Follow any swallowing advice from your speech and language therapist.
  • Ask your health professional if you need, for support to help quit smoking.

Because the prognosis after neck surgery varies widely depending on your individual circumstances, your doctor will give you instructions on when to follow-up. Clinical staff at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital is here to return every phone call and answer every question.


Disclaimer: We do not assume responsibility for the use of the provided information or its interpretation. Our efforts are towards providing current and reliable information; however these should not be considered, or used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.

Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/