There are a variety of reasons that a person might undergo throat remodeling surgery. It’s common to need esophageal reconstruction when battling certain forms of cancers. Other health conditions also might increase the need for a remodeled throat, from asthma to a variety of sinus problems. Sometimes the reconstruction is done for a purely aesthetic purpose. And finally, many transitioning transgender women opt to have a throat reconstruction surgery in order to eliminate their Adam’s apples.
Regardless of the reason for your throat remodeling surgery, the recovery process will be similar for different patients. In this post, we’ll discuss the risk factors associated with the surgery, additional surgeries your doctor may recommend based on your circumstances, and what to expect from your overall recovery.
Risks of Throat Remodeling Surgery
It’s important to be informed of the potential risks with any surgery, not just a throat remodeling surgery. That said, the risks involved with a throat surgery are more potentially severe than those in other cosmetic procedures since the area being dealt with is so sensitive.
If you need a throat remodeling surgery to have a better quality of life, whether it’s for health or purely aesthetic reasons, you shouldn’t let the risks stop you from following through on your needs. These are the biggest risks associated with the surgery and the time period immediately following the surgery, along with ways to avoid these risks:
Infection at the site of the surgery is a risk with all surgeries you might undertake, not just a throat remodeling or reconstructive surgery. You should always make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding antibiotics, bandage changing, and keeping the site clean. If you do notice any discharge, swelling, or redness around the incision, you should get in contact with your doctor immediately. The same is true if you have a fever higher than 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Collapsed Lung
This is a very unusual complication, but it’s important to be aware of the risk regardless. When a lung collapses during surgery, it’s not the fault of the patient; it’s a surgical error. Sometimes a surgeon will accidentally injure a lung while performing the throat reconstruction. To avoid this, you should schedule your surgery with an expert surgeon who has performed this type of surgery several times before.
- Complications From Displacement of a Stentor Endotracheal Tube
It’s common for your doctor to place a stent or endotracheal tube into your throat during the surgery and in the periods immediately following the surgery. This tube allows you to breathe freely and ensures there will be no airway obstruction due to the surgery. While this is objectively a safe measure to put in place, sometimes the stent or tube can become displaced. When this happens, a variety of complications could occur including infections and collapsed lungs. This is another complication that can be easily avoided by booking the right surgical team. Make sure that everyone involved in the installation, management, and removal of your stent or tube is an experienced professional who has done the procedure multiple times before.
- Difficulties Swallowing and Speaking
This is one of the most common potential complications of the surgery. Your throat might be sore following the surgery, you might have difficulty swallowing, and you might have a raspy or breathy voice. Sometimes this is a result of the endotracheal tube is removed; in these cases, the raspy voice will usually subside as the surgery heals more. In some cases, the change in voice is a result of the surgery itself. When this is the case, you’ll need to work with language and speech therapists to manage your issues with swallowing and speaking after the surgery.
- Side Effects of Anesthesia
Any procedure which uses anesthesia carries the risk of that anesthesia having side effects. Some of the most common side effects of administered anesthesia are a sore throat, sleepiness, shivering, nausea, vomiting, and dry mouth. Usually, these effects will only last a few hours after you wake from your surgery. In rare cases, they might persist for a few days after the surgery.
General Recovery Post-Surgery
Immediately after the surgery, you might need the assistance of a breathing machine until the site from the surgery heals. You might also need to keep your breathing tube in for a period ranging from hours to days following the surgery; the length of time you’ll need to use the tube depends on how extensive the surgery was and whether you can breathe independently of it.
After throat surgery, the majority of patients will stay in the hospital for a period lasting between one and two weeks. If there were complications during the surgery, or the patient needs more heavy-duty breathing assistance, the length of the hospital stay might be longer.
In certain cases, an endoscopic surgery might be performed for outpatients. These procedures usually don’t involve the reconstruction of the entire throat, however. If you do have an endoscopic surgery, you might be cleared to return home the same day that you undergo your surgery.
The overall treatment and final recovery time will depend on the reason for the surgery, any potential complications, and how involved the surgery was. Full recovery will generally take a minimum of a few weeks. In more extreme surgeries, it might take several months.
Your doctor might recommend a speech therapist if you have continued problems with speaking or swallowing. Your doctor will also perform a regular endoscopic exam every week or so to make sure the airway is healing properly.
Finding the Right Surgeon
Regardless of the reason for your surgery, you’ll want to use a surgeon with extensive experience in understanding the throat. Hudson Valley Sinus Center is led by a group of physicians and plastic surgeons who have extensive knowledge about the sinuses, from the nose to the mouth to the throat.
The main plastic surgeon in the practice, Dr. Ran Y. Rubinstein has been certified to perform both neck surgery and facial plastic surgery. He is also a member of multiple sinuses and allergy-related medical boards and contributes significantly to their information. Dr. Rubinstein is currently the only ENT in the Hudson Valley who has a specialty in sinus disorders.