Neck Dissection

A “neck dissection” is an operation where lymph nodes of the neck are removed when they may be affected by cancer. The type of neck dissection you will have depends on the extent of cancer, where the cancer started, and if you are having other treatment.

What are lymph nodes?
Lymph nodes are part of a system responsible for draining, filtering and monitoring the fluid that collects between cells of the body. Their main function is to help the body fight infection. It is these same “glands” that become swollen when you have an infection such as a sore throat. In addition to infection, lymph nodes can collect tumor cells. As many areas of the head and neck have a highly predictable drainage pattern, your surgery will be tailored based on the site of the originating cancer. Additional factors your surgeon will consider include the size of the lymph node, the number of involved lymph nodes. Surgery to remove these involves an incision into the skin of the neck.

Do not take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for two weeks prior to surgery. Medications in this family include: aspirin, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, Aleve, naproxen, Celebrex and others. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding. Also, discontinue all homeopathic alternative medicines such as ginkgo biloba, garlic, fish oil, dong quai, feverfew or ginseng. These too may increase bleeding.
Tylenol (acetaminophen) is not an NSAID, therefore, can be taken prior to surgery.

1) Activity: Light activity for 1 to 2 weeks it is recommended after neck dissection surgery.
2) Diet: You can eat a diet as you tolerate after neck dissection.
3) Medicines: You will be prescribed pain medicines and possibly antibiotics. Take these as directed.
4) Bathing: Generally, you may shower 24 hours after the drains are removed. Please do not take a bath until one week after your sutures or staples are removed.
5) Post-operative follow-up: your sutures or skin clips will be removed 7 to 14 days after surgery. If this post-operative visit has not already been scheduled, please call our office to make that appointment. 847-674-5585.