Your Care at Home after a Neck Dissection
What to Expect
You can expect an incision and drainage
tube(s) on the affected side of your neck.
Drainage tubes are removed about 1 – 2 days
after surgery. There is a chance of some
numbness, tingling, or decreased feeling in
the jaw or neck. Because of this, be careful
around extremes of hot and cold. Heating
pads and hair dryers should be used with
caution. Also, wear extra clothes to protect
against frostbite. Be careful when shaving.
There may be some pain after surgery. For
relief, use your pain pills as prescribed. You
can expect a decrease in range of motion and
muscle strength and may notice drooping of
the affected shoulder. Your doctor may want
you to do muscle exercises to strengthen
your neck and shoulder. Your doctor will
advise you about what he may want you to
do and when to begin. A teaching guide will
be given to you at that time to help you do
the exercises the right way. Slight pain and
aching in the shoulder may last for months.
What to Do
ξ For the next week, raise your
head at least 30º when you lie
down. Do not lie flat in bed.
Use at least 2 pillows.
ξ Restrict your activity for 2
weeks. Avoid heavy exercise
and activity such as jogging,
aerobics, swimming, or lifting
greater than 25 pounds.
ξ Check your wound for any signs
of infection. Watch for redness,
fever, swelling, pain, warmth at
the site, or pus-like drainage.
ξ You may shower 24 hours after
the drainage tube is removed.
When to Call Your Doctor
Please call your doctor if you notice:
ξ Bleeding that soaks the gauze
dressing in 10 minutes or less
and continues to soak dressings
for one hour.
ξ Fever greater than 100.5 θ F when
taken by mouth. Pain not
relieved by medicine.
ξ Any signs of infection.
ξ Increased swelling of the neck
ξ Trouble breathing.
If you have any questions or problems once
you are home, please call:
ENT Clinic, Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m.
- 5:00 p.m., at (608) 263-6190
After 5:00 p.m. or weekends, the clinic
number will give you the paging operator.
Ask for the ENT doctor on-call. Leave your
name, area code, and phone number. The
doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, please call
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if
you have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your
doctor. This is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
Because each person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care
team when using this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©9/2016. University of
Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing.