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Head and neck surgery is a specialty within the field of ear, nose, and throat (ENT) medicine or otolaryngology. It focuses on the medical and surgical treatment of head and neck disorders, including the respiratory and upper alimentary systems, the ears, and other related structures of the head and neck. Some of the most common disorders of the head and neck that head and neck surgeon can treat are as follows:
Head and neck surgeons may work alongside other specialists to provide comprehensive treatment for patients. For example, they may work with a medical oncologist for treatment of head and neck cancers.
Some of the most common procedures that head and neck surgeons perform include, but are not limited to:
You may need to stay in the hospital for several days following head and neck surgery, ranging from 2 days to a week, depending on the type of surgery you had. It is generally advisable that you stay in Bangkok for a minimum of 7 to 10 days before you travel home. In certain cases, you may need to stay longer. During your stay in Bangkok, you will have to rest as much as possible to let your body recover. You may also have to attend follow-up checkups with your surgeon, where they check your condition and, if necessary, remove your surgical stitches.
It takes time to recover from head and neck surgery. It may take around two to six weeks until you can gradually go back to your normal activities and return to work. However, you may not be allowed to take part in strenuous activities for 6 to 8 weeks. Complete recovery for some diseases and procedures may even take 6 to 12 months. Your surgeon will give you a detailed recovery timeline that is specifically tailored to your condition, overall health, and type of procedure you underwent.
Aftercare instructions will be given to you before you are discharged from the hospital. The instructions may include activity restrictions, how to care for your surgical wounds, as well as recommended diet and exercise. Make sure to follow all instructions precisely to avoid complications and speed up your recovery time. For some diseases, occupational or speech therapy may be needed. You may also need to attend regular checkups, which you can have with your local doctor at home.
Continuous research and advances in medical technology, as well as a broader and better understanding of the head and neck, have significantly increased the success rate and safety of head and neck surgery. Today, surgeons can apply minimally invasive techniques, which allow patients to recover more quickly, whenever appropriate. For example, surgeons can now perform transoral robotic surgery (TORS) to remove oropharyngeal cancer, which allows them to access tumors through the mouth without having to create any external incisions.
Alternatives depend on your specific condition. For example, for cancer, you may be able to see a radiation oncologist who uses ionizing radiation, such as radiotherapy, to treat head and neck cancer.