The mouth is the first station where food gets digested. This digestion takes place due to the secretion of saliva. Saliva also keeps the teeth healthy, the mouth moist and helps you swallow. It is produced by 3 major pairs of salivary glands, namely the parotid glands, submandibular glands and sublingual glands, and is transported through a long duct (tube like structure) called the salivary duct into the mouth. The most common problem associated with the salivary gland is the blockage of the salivary duct. This blockage may be caused by stones or narrowing of the salivary duct. These may cause swelling or inflammation of the glands while eating. If a lump develops in the salivary gland, your surgeon may ask you to remove the salivary glands as the lumps may be cancerous. This process of removal of the salivary glands is called excision.
The excision of salivary glands is indicated to treat blockages or lumps formed in the salivary gland.
The process of excision of the salivary gland is performed under general anesthesia (you will be put to sleep). During the excision, the incision made to remove the gland depends on the gland to be removed.
The gland is then identified and your surgeon decides on the amount of tissue to be removed depending on the extent of damage. Once the gland is removed, the incision is closed with sutures.
A drain or small tube is also placed into the skin to remove any blood which may collect. The surgery takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour based on its complexity. If the excised gland is suspected for cancer, a sample is sent to a lab to determine if the tumor can spread to other parts as well.
You will be required to stay in the hospital for the night after the surgery. You may be given painkillers if there is severe pain. You will have to keep the wound dry for a week after the surgery; hence, care should be taken while washing and shaving. The drain is removed the next morning and the stitches are removed after about a week of the surgery. You can resume your normal activities after a week, but strenuous activities should be avoided during the 1st week following the operation. The scar may take a few months to fade away, but will gradually blend with the natural skin folds.
Some of the complications caused due to the excision of a salivary gland can include bleeding from the wound which is likely to occur within 12 hours of the surgery and can be treated in the hospital itself. There is also a chance of infection at the incision site which can be treated with antibiotics if necessary. There is also a rare possibility of the occurrence of nerve damage during the surgery, which may cause weakness of the lower lip, numbness of the tongue or restricted tongue movement.
The excision of a salivary gland does not have an impact on the production of saliva, as there are many other salivary glands present in and around the mouth.