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What is a parotid gland removal surgery?

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Parotid gland removal surgery, or parotidectomy, involves the removal of the parotid salivary gland due to an infection or tumor, according to Cedars-Sinai. During the procedure, the patient is given anesthesia, and the surgeon tries to remove the parotid gland without damaging the facial nerve.

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The type of parotidectomy that a surgeon performs on an individual with salivary gland disease depends on the extent of the disease and where it starts, asserts the American Cancer Society. A superficial parotidectomy involves removing only the outer part of the parotid gland, whereas a total parotidectomy involves removing the whole gland because the cancer has spread to a larger area. The surgeon may also need to take out the facial nerve and surrounding lymph nodes if the cancer has grown to those areas. After undergoing parotidectomy, patients may feel facial numbness or may develop Frey's syndrome, a condition that causes excessive sweating while eating, notes Cedars-Sinai.

Three major salivary glands, the parotid, submandibular and sublingual glands, are found in the mouth and throat, and they are responsible for expelling saliva into the mouth, states the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Doctors diagnose diseases of the salivary glands by taking X-rays of the mouth and neck, using an MRI or CT scan to look closer at potential tumors and taking biopsies.

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