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Submandibular Surgery in Tampa and Spring Hill, FL

Pain during eating and swelling may be signs of problems with the submandibular gland in your mouth. As board-certified Otolaryngologist/Head and Neck Surgeons, our physicians have the expertise you need for proper diagnosis and treatment. Submandibular surgery alleviates symptoms and improves the quality of life for those living in Tampa, Spring Hill and surrounding communities in Florida.

What Is The Submandibular Gland?

Everyone has a pair of submandibular or salivary glands under their jawbone. Each submandibular gland creates saliva that travels through the long Wharton duct before it is secreted from an opening under the tongue toward the front of the mouth. A small amount of saliva is produced continually by the submandibular glands, but the amount increases to aid in digestion when individuals consume food or drink beverages. Saliva excreted by the submandibular glands is slightly thicker than the saliva produced by other salivary glands, leading to the formation of little stones.

What Problems Can You Have With The Submandibular Gland?

The most common problem concerning the submandibular gland is a blockage caused by a narrowing of the duct or the presence of small stones. When a blockage occurs in the duct, patients at Suncoast ENT Surgical Specialists in Tampa and Spring Hill, have a symptom of painful swelling of the glands while eating or drinking. Occasionally, the swelling subsides without treatment, but severe blockages frequently lead to persistent inflammation of the submandibular gland. In addition, a large lump may develop within the submandibular gland. While these lumps are painless, up to 50% are cancerous or precancerous, requiring removal along with laboratory testing. All of these lumps become larger gradually, making removal when it is small a better plan.

What Testing Procedures Are You Likely To Need?

Your ENT specialist may recommend diagnostic procedures to determine if you have stones inside the duct or submandibular gland, such as:

  • X-rays
  • CT scan: a combination of x-ray and computer viewing
  • Ultrasound: that uses sound waves to find lumps
  • Sialogram: that is an x-ray that is taken after contrast liquid is injected
  • Fine needle aspiration: to remove cells from the lump for testing

Why Operate on the Submandibular Gland?

If stones in the gland do not come out naturally or are removed by a surgeon, then the gland swells when the patient consumes food. The stones inside the submandibular gland are removed easily with a surgical procedure inside the mouth after a patient receives local or general anesthesia. A Suncoast ENT will discuss a patient’s options, concerning stone removal from the submandibular gland.

When stones remain in the submandibular gland for a long time, the tissue may develop permanent inflammation along with uncomfortable swelling. When patients continue to experience pain from the gland, a physician may advise removal of the structure. Extremely large lumps in the gland or Wharton duct may also lead to the total removal of a submandibular gland. If the lump is precancerous or cancerous, then complete removal is the best option to permit a testing procedure on the tissue to determine if it is benign or cancerous.

The Operation to Remove the Gland

General anesthesia is used to allow patients to remain comfortable during the procedure to remove a submandibular gland. The surgeon makes a tiny incision on the side of the neck approximately one inch below the patient’s jawbone. The surgeon makes the incision in an existing skin crease to make it as imperceptible as possible. In most cases, the small scar heals nicely, making it difficult for anyone to see. The gland is dissected from surrounding tissues carefully before the deep layers of the wound and skin are closed with sutures. After the gland is removed, a drain is inserted near the incision to remove blood from the wound. Patients typically remain in the hospital for one to two days after surgery to recuperate. When the drain is removed, the patient returns home for two weeks to recover completely.

After Surgery

After surgery, patients experience mild discomfort that subsides gradually over the next few days. Patients can resume their normal activities in as little as one or two days and can consume a regular diet soon after a submandibular gland excision because saliva production is not usually affected.

All of the sutures used in this procedure are absorbed into the body because the materials are biodegradable. This means that a patient does not require a follow-up appointment for removal of sutures. Patients living out-of-town are permitted to travel after removal of the drain, and no follow-up is required unless a surgeon from Suncoast ENT Surgical Specialists advises otherwise.

Swelling and pain, when you eat and drink, may be signs of a condition that requires submandibular surgery. If you have these types of symptoms, contact our Tampa or Spring Hill office to schedule a consultation with one of our ENT specialists.