Neck and throat surgeries can treat a wide range of medical conditions, from relatively chronic tonsillitis to more serious illnesses. The risks and recovery times associated with surgery vary depending on the person’s overall health and the type of procedure they undergo.

It is important that a person considering surgery determines the factors that might increase their risk of complications or a long recovery.

For example, choosing a surgeon who has significant experience with the specific type of surgery the person needs can improve outcomes.

Keep reading to learn more about the different types of neck and throat surgery.

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Tonsillectomy removes the tonsils, which are tissues located at the back of the mouth. The tonsils may become inflamed due to infections, and this can cause tonsillitis. Tonsillitis can be chronic for some people. Tonsillectomy can prevent tonsillitis from recurring.

Bleeding and nausea are possible side effects of this surgery. Infection- and anesthetic-related complications are rare but can occur.

Tonsillectomy may occur along with adenoidectomy. Sometimes, a surgeon performs only adenoidectomy. This procedure removes the adenoids, which are clusters of tissue located at the back of the mouth, behind the nose.

Adenoid removal may help with snoring, chronic infections of the ear, and chronic nasal congestion. However, the surgery can cause complications such as pain and voice changes.

The adenoids and tonsils can regrow, but this is uncommon.

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is a type of surgery that can help treat sleep apnea and snoring by removing excess tissue at the back of the mouth and throat. Sometimes, a surgeon also removes the tonsils.

Recovery from this surgery usually takes 1–2 weeks. A person may experience pain following surgery, and they usually need to stay in the hospital overnight.

Laryngoscopy is a procedure to examine the airways. It takes place when a person is awake. Laryngoscopy looks at the larynx to check for injuries and growths. During the procedure, a healthcare professional inserts a long tube down into the throat via the nose or mouth.

The laryngoscope tube can be flexible or rigid. Flexible laryngoscopy is a quick procedure that takes place in an outpatient setting.

Direct flexible laryngoscopy takes about 10 minutes and requires no recovery time. The throat will be numb afterward, and the person will usually need a ride home. In very rare cases, the person may experience infections or bleeding. Temporary hoarseness is another possibility.

If a healthcare professional uses a rigid laryngoscope, they will also use a general anesthetic. This procedure will take place in the hospital, and it may be the best option if a biopsy is required. This procedure takes much longer than flexible laryngoscopy.

Vocal cord surgery treats problems with the larynx, such as cancerous growths, nodules, and damage to the vocal cords.

Some surgical options include:

  • vocal cord injections to treat vocal cord paralysis and weakness
  • laryngeal framework surgery to help the cartilage of the vocal cords work better
  • laser surgery to remove cancer and noncancerous growths

Scarring from surgery may change the sound of the voice. The person may also experience bleeding or infections. It is also possible to damage surrounding structures.

In most cases, recovery is quick. However, the person may have pain and hoarseness for a few days.

Thyroid surgery can treat and remove thyroid cancer and thyroid growths.

There are several different surgeries, including:

  • Hemi-thyroidectomy/thyroid lobectomy: This is surgery to remove one lobe of the thyroid.
  • Isthmusectomy: This is surgery to remove the connective tissue that joins the two thyroid lobes.
  • Thyroidectomy: This refers to the complete removal of the thyroid.

Removal of some or all of the thyroid may require a person to take thyroid hormones for the rest of their life.

The person may experience pain and grogginess following anesthesia. In rare cases, the surgery can cause excessive bleeding, infections, or damage to the nerves and other structures in the neck.

A number of different surgeries can remove cancerous growths and other masses from the throat, larynx, and mouth. The specific surgery depends on the location of cancer.

In some cases, healthcare professionals can perform the surgery with lasers or endoscopically, which means that there is only a small incision.

The risks of these surgeries include bleeding, infections, and pain.

The following surgeries operate on the neck and its parts.

Disk replacement surgery removes a damaged disk between the vertebrae and replaces it with an artificial disk. This can help with severe chronic pain and mobility issues from herniated or damaged disks.

The risks of this surgery include:

  • bleeding
  • infections
  • damage to the spine
  • spinal fluid leakage
  • voice changes
  • failure to reduce pain

Cervical discectomy is surgery to remove one or more damaged disks between the vertebrae. A doctor may recommend this surgery to someone who has a herniated disk, bone spurs, or stenosis. The surgery usually involves fusing damaged vertebrae.

This is a major surgery to resolve serious chronic conditions. Recovery usually takes several weeks. A person will need a neck brace during recovery.

The risks associated with this surgery include:

  • infections
  • bleeding
  • reactions to the anesthetic
  • damage to the throat or esophagus
  • swallowing difficulties
  • nerve damage
  • spinal fluid leakage
  • failure to resolve symptoms

Several surgeries can help decompress the spine. One of the most common operations for this purpose is laminectomy.

A laminectomy removes all or a portion of the lamina, which is the vertebra bone. This can decompress the spine to help treat pain and pressure from herniated disks, stenosis, or spinal irregularities and injuries.

Foraminotomies are related surgeries that can relieve pressure by widening the passageway of one or more bones of the spine. Corpectomy is another type of spinal decompression surgery that removes damaged disks and vertebral bones.

Infections and bleeding can occur, but complications are relatively uncommon in these surgeries. Sometimes, spinal fluid may leak, which can cause a painful headache.

Surgery on the neck or throat is sometimes necessary to repair damage and relieve symptoms. Most surgeries are very safe and pose a low risk of complications.

A person may wish to ask a doctor about more conservative treatment options before considering surgery. There may be other options with fewer risks that can help with symptoms.

However, some people may require surgery when their condition does not respond to other treatments or if the condition is a serious one.