You will wake up in a recovery room. When your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are normal, you will be taken to a regular hospital room. If you have other medical problems, you may spend the night in the Intermediate Care Unit for closer monitoring.
Pain can be controlled with medicine. Occasionally swallowing may be a little difficult. You will be started on a liquid diet and advanced to solid foods as tolerated.
Most people are able to go home in one or two days. On rare occasions, a patient may need to stay longer in the hospital.
Drains: If you had a central neck dissection and have a drain coming out of your neck, it will likely be removed before you are discharged. If you had a lateral neck dissection, your drains will remain in place until you are seen in clinic for a follow-up. You will be instructed how to care for the drains and to record the amount of drainage. As healing takes place, the fluid drainage decreases to a low level. The drain is kept in place until this minimal level is reached so that fluid does not accumulate in the neck.
In order to avoid stiffness in the neck and shoulder, exercises can be started 2-3 times per day as soon as the day after surgery. The recommended stretches are depicted below.
This information is provided by the Department of Surgery at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. It is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.