4 day post op update

So i finally had my external surgery 4 days ago to get my right ST removed. My first impression is that everything went pretty good.
About 2 hours surgery. Then 2 days in the hospital with a drain tube still attached to my neck. I’m able to talk normally, no droopy face muscles or anything. Everything works fine. I’m not sure if the symptoms are gone for good. The main symptom was a consistent pressure in my ear and this has been gone some times but sometimes it’s still there. My throat still pretty swollen around the scar and it’s difficult to twist my head because of it. Swallowing hurt a lot the last few days but has gotten a lot better by today. One thing that is weird is that my chin and right side of my throat feel a bit numb. The doctor said that this can’t be related to nerve damage from the cut because those nerves are not anywhere near there where they had cut. I’m assuming that it might be related to the swelling and I am also hoping the ear pressure will stay away once the swelling is all gone. Has anyone have had a numb chin from swelling?
Has anyone experienced this swelling and knows how long it takes to go away?

I’ve had a numb cheek & ear from the swelling post-op, took a while to return & I still have a couple of numb spots. You have at least your surgeons reassurance that the nerve hasn’t been cut; nerves sometimes get a little stretched with the surgery which can aggravate them, causing tingling or numbness. And also as you mention, swelling can cause the same. Nerve damage can take a long while to heal, months, & some members have reported that they’ve still been seeing improvements even a year afterwards, so unfortunately patience is needed.
As for ear pressure, again it can take a little while for swelling to go down so it may take a while too.

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Hi john_h!

You may find that your pre-op symptoms come & go over the next several of months. You will have days where you feel pretty good then days where you swear surgery was not the answer. As the nerves heal, you may even get new pains & symptoms, but they should go away w/ time. The name of the game w/ post op ES healing is PATIENCE. It can be very discouraging as you get farther out from surgery to have a day where your pre-op pain suddenly returns. I had to take Percocet for 2 weeks post op then intermittently up to 6 weeks after surgery as my pain flared & subsequently disappeared at unexpected times. At about the 2 month mark, I really saw positive gain in the healing arena.

If you have bilateral ES, the remaining styloid/calcified s-h ligament can also contribute to post op pain (even on the side opposite to the remaining styloid/s-h ligament) which won’t subside till you have the second side removed.

I, too, have some permanent facial numbness along my jawline on one side. I only notice it when I rest that part of my face in my hand, otherwise, I forget it’s there.


Thanks for the kind words. The ear pressure really comes and goes and reading your experiences makes me positive that it will be gone for good soon.
There’s another problem i’m having recently. Right after surgery everything was fine but a few days later now i’m having a sharp pain in my jaw when i eat. It’s strongest when i begin eating and fades during the meal. I don’t think it’s from chewing since i also have this when i drink flavored beverages. Anyone know what’s up with that?

AHA! I am sorry to tell you that you have First Bite Syndrome - First bite syndrome is characterized as pain in the parotid (salivary gland) gland or lower jaw area (mandibular region) at the first bite and, subsequently improves with each bite . The cause is unclear but, may be related to nerve impairment from surgery or other conditions. (from Google)

FBS is a somewhat common side effect of surgeries in the neck & jaw areas. It’s caused by nerve irritation/damage to the parotid gland (sits right behind your jaw) which causes the parotid gland to become over-stimulated when you start eating. This causes sharp pain to shoot through the jaw muscles & in some cases up into the scalp area around the ear on the affected side when you take your first several bites of food. For many people, this problem goes away completely. For others, the intensity decreases w/ time but the problem remains for the long term. I have it for the long term :smirk:. Certain types of food make it worse i.e. sour, very sweet, very spicy, etc. You’ll have to experiment to see which are your worst triggers & maybe stay away from those for a bit until it settles down. Staying very hydrated helps to minimize the pain response perhaps because it keeps the saliva more dilute. I LOVE fresh pineapple & had to stop eating it for many months because of the pain it caused when I took a bite.

First bite syndrome can be treated w/ anti-seizure (nerve) meds like amitriptyline, neurontin, gabapentin & the like though these haven’t been shown to be very helpful. If you want to try a more natural approach accupuncture might help. I’ve actually considered that but haven’t done it yet. I just saw a link to a scholarly article online where botulinum bacteria was tested to see if it helped w/ FBS symptoms, but I didn’t want to pay for the article so don’t know what the results were.

I truly am sorry you’re experiencing this but just as with your other symptoms, it will get better w/ time.

Hi, John, I am 3 weeks 6 days post op. I have all those symptoms,but they are fading. The first bite syndrome and jaw pain are fading. You will notice that they come back more some days. The more activity the more you will feel it, but it gradually gets better.
I had intraoral surgery 5 years ago. It took me 11 weeks to feel human and 6 months to be good. Then 2 years later, it all came back worse. It has taken me 2 years to get to this day.
Take it slow if you can. At the beginning of week 3, I was able to do quite a bit. At the end, of the week, I am noticing much improvement. My outer ear and earlobe are still numb. My neck is so much better. I am looking forward to getting my life back. I will be having the other side done early next year. It is really long an will need to be removed from skull to hyoid,but this side will be done all at once externally. I hope you see the improvement soon. Make note of your improvement weekly for awhile.

Hey everyone. Almost 4 weeks after surgery.
The First Bite Syndrome is still pretty bad. On some days i experienced a sharp stinging pain about 15-20 minutes after eating. The pain normally last about 30 minutes and went away each time on it’s own. I haven’t been taking any painkillers the last 2.5 weeks.

My cheek/neck is still numb. The ear pressure is better i’d say its gone about 60% off the time. I hope it will stay away one day for good.

I sleep so much better. I have not been sleeping very well in years.Feels as i have never slept that good. Even my Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock app shows that my sleep quality has increased by about 23% since surgery. (red dot marks the surgery date)

The swelling has been less for a while but recently the upper bit of the scar, close to where the drain was in, got swollen a bit more than it was before. I hope that’s normal and goes away on it’s own again.

Glad that you’re sleeping well & generally feeling better! I hope that things carry on improving for you! It’s unusual for the first bite to be so long after eating, usually it’s just as you start to eat. It can take a little while to go, hopefully it’ll improve soon!

Good sleep is so important for physical recovery & a good state of mind. Glad you’re sleeping better now!

As Jules said, the pain you get 15-20 min. after eating is probably not first bite syndrome. It could be healing nerves that are being stimulated by chewing, salivation, or swallowing though. I expect you’ll notice this sensation quietly disappear over time. Please remember patience is key in the 2-12 months after ES surgery as nerves are slow to heal. Sometimes it’s 3 steps forward, 2 steps back but the overall pattern is progress toward healing.