Head and Neck Surgery: At Home Instructions

The following instructions will help you to know what to expect in the days following surgery. Do not hesitate to call if you have questions or concerns.


  • After surgery your child should rest at home for several days. Light activities may be resumed when your child feels up to it. Strenuous physical activity is discouraged for 7-10 days. This includes gym class, swimming, and recess. Your child may return to school when comfortable and no longer taking prescription pain medication.


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  • Unrestricted. Resume normal diet as tolerated.


  • Most children have mild to moderate pain for a few days after surgery. Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) should be used to relieve any discomfort. Before you leave the surgery center, be sure to ask your provider about the appropriate dose for you.


Pain Control

  • Alternate the use of acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) every 3 hours to control your child’s pain. Please follow this medication schedule while your child is awake for the first few days after surgery.
  • Older children may receive a prescription for a stronger pain medication. Please use this medication if acetaminophen and ibuprofen are not controlling your child’s pain.
  • Give pain medication on a regular schedule for the first 2-3 days after surgery.
  • Rectal acetaminophen suppositories and orally disintegrating tablets are options for children refusing pain medication orally. Available over-the-counter.
  • Your physician will instruct you if ibuprofen is not appropriate to use.


  • A low-grade fever (101 degrees or less) following surgery may occur and should be treated with acetaminophen. Follow the directions on the bottle. If the fever persists (more than 2 days) or is greater than 102 degrees, call our office.



  • It is uncommon for antibiotics to be given post op, but if you your child is given a prescription for oral antibiotics, please start it the day after surgery.

Care of the Incision

  • A bandage may be placed over your child’s incision. Keep bandage intact until the first post op appointment. It may fall off on its own.
  • Observe area for any redness, bleeding, swelling, or increased pain at or around the surgical site. Please call the office with these symptoms.
  • If steri-strips (tape) are present they will fall off within a few days. Please do not remove.
  • Sutures: Absorbable sutures or a liquid skin adhesive are typically used to close the incision. These do not need to be removed. In some children, sutures will need to be removed in 5 to 7 days.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment to the incision if instructed to by your physician. Please follow your physician’s instructions if ointment is needed.
  • Bathing: Avoid soaking your child’s bandage; otherwise it is fine to bath or shower 2 days after surgery.

Care of incision after the first follow-up appointment

  • Apply antibiotic ointment to the incision if instructed to by your physician. Please follow your physician’s instructions if ointment is needed.
  • Vitamin E ointment may be applied to incision starting approximately 2 weeks after surgery.
  • Silicone strips/pads or silicon bandages may be applied to scar once the incision is healed. These strips work best if used overnight.
  • Once your child’s incision is healed, it is important to protect the incision from the sun.
  • Remember, it is always important to apply sunscreen to avoid sun exposure.
  • Contact our office if you have noticed any changes to your child’s scar or keloids. A keloid is an overgrowth of scar tissue at the site of the incision. Keloids typically are raised, look shiny, dome-shaped, and range in color from pink to red.


  • Please call the office to schedule an appointment so that your child can be seen approximately 4 weeks after surgery.
Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 11/14/2018.

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