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Overview of Surgery Side Effects

It is normal for patients to feel tired, have pain, worry, and generally not feel like themselves after parotid surgery. The significant complication rate, and the number of problems requiring serious intervention after parotid surgery is low.

It is important that patients are aware of the potential side effects from having parotid surgery, so they are prepared for what to expect after surgery.

Patients should know the difference between a normal side effect, and the types of side effects that may require medical attention.

Normal Side Effects of Surgery:

  • Incisional and facial swelling
  • Mild incisional redness
  • Skin numbness
  • Jaw stiffness or soreness
  • Muffled or plugged ear feeling
  • Some pain/discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Temporary facial weakness
  • Difficulty Closing Eyelids
  • Throat Soreness
  • General Body Soreness
  • Abnormal sensations (twitching, zapping, phantom itching, feeling of things crawling under skin)
  • Frey’s Syndrome
  • First Bite Syndrome

*For more detailed information about the most common side effects from parotid surgery, refer to the other tabs in this section.

Abnormal Side Effects of Surgery:

  • Ear drainage
  • Wound edge drainage other than very mild clear yellow fluid
  • Rapid swelling of the cheek (particularly after eating)
  • Saliva draining from wound (signs of a sialocele or fistula)
  • Bruising of the skin with rapid swelling (signs of a hematoma)
  • Fever above 101.5 degrees

* Patients should contact their physician if they experience any of the abnormal side effects of surgery.

If a patient is confused or concerned about a potential side effect, they should discuss those concerns with their surgeon to ensure that they know what to do if they have a potential complication from surgery.

It is often helpful to the surgeon if the patient sends a picture along with an explanation of the problem that they are experiencing.

For more information about the side effects from surgery, click here to watch Video 9 in the Mayo Clinic Parotid Tumor Guide series.


1. Mayo Clinic. (2018, October 8.) Mayo Clinic Parotid Tumor Guide: Parotid Tumor Surgery [Video File]. Retrieved by

2. Mayo Clinic. (2018, October 8.) Mayo Clinic Parotid Tumor Guide: Parotid Tumor Surgery at Mayo Clinic [Video File]. Retrieved by

3. Mayo Clinic. (2018, October 8.) Mayo Clinic Parotid Tumor Guide: Recovery after Parotid Surgery [Video File]. Retrieved by

4. Mayo Clinic. (2018, February 19.) Video Q&A about Parotid Tumors [Video File]. Retrieved by

5. The content in this section was drafted in consultation with Eric J. Moore, M.D. and Kerry D. Olsen, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.