How was swallowing after surgery

Hi Everyone,

One of my main symptoms is difficulty swallowing and I have been panicked the last few nights that this will be increasingly worse as I wake up from surgery. I’m curious when people talk about swallowing what exactly they mean. Do they mean sore throat feeling, couldn’t get a swallow in, were you swallowing better with small sips only? Did you feel like throat was closing? Some of these symptoms I’ve already experienced in the course of dealing with ES. I can currently eat/drink (not quite like before) and all swallow tests have been good .

Were people able to eat/drink post surgery and take medicine orally? I did see some people mentioned liquid form of medication which I plan to ask about at pre-op.

When swallowing I mostly feel boney- feeling-esp with saliva but also with drinking things, not a seamless swallow and it’s only on right side. I also get the “stuck” feeling in throat when swallowing as well.

Of course, my fear is a swallowing issue/inflammation leading to a breathing issue. Also, waking up with nausea or even throwing up. I’m doing a lot of praying and so are those closest to me.

I’m also hoping that reading so many stories has only made things worse. I’m sick to my stomach thinking about the weeks ahead and not knowing what to expect. Will some of this depend on the doctor performing surgery ? The scar/location? I’ve been waking up wishing I wasn’t me and unsure of why I have to go through/suffer like this. Really, even having some doubts about surgery and need any comfort, please. My insurance is asking that they keep me overnight so I wont be discharged right away.

When I left doctors office I had a ton of confidence and reassurance but slowly I’m wavering.


I can’t speak from experience, as having trouble with swallowing was one symptom I never had, & after surgery I couldn’t tell any difference with swallowing either.
Are you having external or intra-oral surgery? This does make a difference, as generally, the people who have swallowing issues tend to have intra-oral surgery, & it’s the pain & swelling from the operation which causes the problem I think. You can still get some swelling with external surgery too, so sipping iced water, icing your neck & sitting up & sleeping semi-upright will help whichever surgery you have. Some doctors will prescribe steroids for swelling, occasionally doctors use a drain, but most don’t seem to do that, it’s something you can ask your doctor about. They might do that if you’re staying in for a night.
If you’re worried about being sick you should discuss this with your doctor, as they could prescribe you an anti-emetic for that.
I know how you feel with being anxious- I was really worried about waking up & struggling to swallow, but I was fine when I came round, & was so glad I’d had the surgery & I felt so much better. I found I couldn’t open my mouth wide, & chewing was uncomfortable, but this eased after a week or so.
I hope this helps, & hopefully those who’ve had swallowing issues will chip in! If you let us know when you have a date I’ll happily pray for you too!


Hi Rachel1220,

I had trouble swallowing & choked on liquids & food prior to my ES surgeries. I had some throat swelling for several weeks after my first surgery, but it didn’t affect my swallowing like ES did. I was able to take my meds in pill form & was given a course of prednisone to help control post op swelling which helped a lot. As Jules noted, some doctors offer that but other don’t. I recommend asking for it if your doctor doesn’t offer something like that for you.

It’s also important for you to talk to the anesthesiologist ahead of time if you think/know you’ll have issues w/ post op nausea as you will be given extra anti-emitic meds to help prevent that. The post op nursing staff’s goal is to help keep you as comfy as possible which includes monitoring your pain & nausea levels. Since you’ll be staying in the hospital overnight, you’ll have good access to anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, & pain medication. Ice will also be a key player in helping w/ post op swelling & pain control. Gel ice packs are a “must have” at home so you can ice your neck several times over the course of a day - 15 min. on & at least 45 min. off. Don’t forget the necessary wedge pillow to keep your head elevated whenever you’re lying down at home & a stool softener/laxative to help prevent “plumbing clogs” from the pain medication.

You may have a sore throat/stiff jaw for a bit after surgery, but as Jules noted, these will disappear before too long & eating will become easier. Many of us started off on a soft diet for the first few days post op & ate/drank smoothies, yogurt, popsicles, hot cereal, mashed potatoes, soup, pudding, etc., until things felt more comfortable.

Relax & let God’s “peace that passes understanding” flow over you. Having your styloid(s) removed will help you regain a more normal life. I will pray for you as well. :heart:


Thank you, Jules! I am have the external surgery and will be using PLENTY of ice. I had my pre-op appt today and did mention about the nausea. The date for surgery is 3/31 and I’m a wreck thinking about it. I appreciate all the response and all of your shared insight.


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Not too long away then! The external surgery is less likely to give you swallowing issues, so that’s good!


Thank you for the reply! It’s great to know others experienced difficulty swallowing but were able to still take pain meds and continue with recovery care! I’m waiting to hear back from doctor on the pain regimen that will likely be put in place. I also mentioned to them about nausea at the pre-op appt today.
I plan to stock up on soft foods thank you for all the reccomendations. Any and all prayers are needed as I navigate this new and challening time. Thank you so much! <3


Personally, my swallowing issues from the ES compared to those from surgery are different. I occasionally struggled with swallowing (felt like my throat was closing up) pre surgery, more when I was consuming cold items or after talking for a while.
After my first surgery I was really sore (struggled drinking) for the first day, but cool/cold and hot drinks helped. Post op second side I had more soreness but again, cold por warm drinks were helpful.
Also after reading Isaiah’s response - during my hospital stay both times I got an ice pack and secured it around my head so it was resting on my incision. I’ll add a pic (most of the swelling was due to an allergic reaction so please don’t get too scared about that) below. It looks a little silly but helped not having pressure directly on the incision the first day.
I was still able to eat soft foods and take all pills (largest I have is a Tylenol capsule) though I had to take only 1-2 (instead of 4-6) at a time for about 4 days post op both times. I hope this helps!


Great to know and I do appreciate the reply! I will plan to wear ice any which way as long as it brings relief. The things we do to get better FAST! I appreciate you taking the time to respond and I’m anticipating more soreness than anything else. I mostly stick to soft foods now since nothing has been comfortable and I can’t enjoy the way I once did. Hope you are feeling better now!! :slight_smile:


Hi Rachel
Thanks for asking all your questions and expressing your fears. I said Ditto when I read your post. So thankful to everyone that shares their experience. I will be praying for your surgery to be a success on the 31st. I have my surgery scheduled with Dr Hackman on April 9.
I was wondering if you were having yours done by him also?

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I hope that yours goes well, & will be praying for you too! :pray:

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I’m so glad others can relate in the way we feel. This has all been really scary. I’m not that at the point where I’m finding any relief having an appt scheduled. To say I’ve been a flood of emotions is an understatement.

What are some of the symptoms you experience? I’ve been so interested in reading everyone’s stories but I’ve also learned that none are alike at all. How have you felt reading all the posts on this site?

My procedure is set to take place in Chicago with a doctor that came referred from Dr. Bove who did ES surgeries and is mentioned on this site. He isn’t doing surgery at this time. The doctor is a neck, neck, and cancer surgeon. Today, I scheduled a telehealth appt once more so that I can speak with her before seeing her day of procedure.

I’ll be thinking of you and praying for you.


So glad to know your surgery is coming up soon, too, Suzzetteas. I’ve added you to my calendar as well so I can pray for you that day especially. :blush:

I’m feeling much better! The pic I attached is from surgery in August, I had the second side done in January (now I’m wishing I’d waited a bit longer, but I’m still glad to be done with them) and all my pre surgery symptoms have resolved. The only thing I still deal with is some minor nerve irritation on the left side which is slowly getting better.


Hi Rachel
I agree, this is really scary! Sounds like you have chosen a great surgeon. I am going to be praying for your surgery to go awesome and be symptom-free. I feel like I need a telehealth appt once more before the surgery also. Seems so strange to see someone once for a few mins and have surgery. I feel like I have so much that pops in my head that I want to tell him.

I have TOS that was diagnosed in 2005 so that is where my journey began. I am going to write my journey on paper next week and post it on the site so others can get the whole picture. So here is a brief synopsis.
I had bilateral TOS surgery 2009/2010 which helped a lot with the TOS stuff.
Post TOS Surgery- I have blamed all my symptoms on the TOS since there never seemed to be anything wrong with me. I was clueless that there could be something else that was causing all my stuff.
Headaches seem to be about 6 hrs after doing an activity. When the barometric pressure change happens to drop below 30 I have extreme headaches.
neck, face, and jaw pain
intermittent twitching in my eye and lip
ear pain started 8+ years ago
TMJ started 2+ years ago
Clearing throat and coughing for many years.

Sore throat, although I found out the soreness, is from the stylohyoid ligament poking into my mouth and the tissues moving over the ligament and bone are being irritated when I speak or eat. That is how I ended up being diagnosed with ES.

trouble swallowing and enunciating words started 1 1/2 years ago
I was diagnosed with GERD 3 1/2 years ago
Shortness of breath
digestive issues

I try to keep positive thoughts about what is going on.
I keep telling myself this is going to be the beginning of my new life after this surgery.
I am beside myself in hopes this is going to be the answer to my years of suffering.
I am worried about the surgery as with any surgery but I am confident from the posts on here that Dr. Hackman knows what he is doing.


Thank you so much!

Hi Anharris
I was worried about how I was going to make sure the hospital gave me lots of ice post-op.
Thanks for sharing this.
Where did you have your surgery?

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I had surgery with Dr Omlie in MN. First surgery I woke up with the ice pack, second time I had to request one but both times the nurses were more than willing to refill as needed.


Hi Rachel -
I had my first surgery on January 20 with my second one scheduled for May 11. Prior to surgery, I had & still have some swallowing issues when I drink certain liquids or some foods. I have a bad cough so many things trigger that. In the hospital after I had my surgery, I had trouble swallowing & couldn’t take my pills. They had to crush them & I had them with small amounts of apple sauce. That lasted probably 3 days. I had to go slow & eat soft foods for at least a week or more. I think the swallowing was attributed to having the anesthesia or breathing tubes down my nose & then the back of my throat. Perhaps the position of my neck during surgery aggravated it. That’s my thought. I could swallow small amounts of water or liquids & have a tiny spoonful of a soft food, but I had to use a spoon for the liquids to control the amount going in & then swallowing. If that makes sense?

As far as nausea or other issues with the anesthesia. The anesthesiologist usually comes in before your surgery to talk to you (or I’m sure you can request to see them, if it’s not the norm). When mine came in, I told him that I don’t do well with any medications & I always have some weird issues. I have gotten nauseous afterward too, but I didn’t specify that. He said that he would give me a broad range of drugs instead of just a main one or two. With the broad range, it is harder to have any side effects with them. With just one or two main anesthesia drugs, you can have more side effects if your body has issues with it. And they can add in those anti-nausea meds to help with that too.

As far as having the flood of emotions & nervous about the surgery. I think that is quite common & normal. It is a mix of feelings. Finally, your symptoms could be relieved, or will it work? What can I expect? The couple nights before the surgery, it seemed so close. My surgery had been cancelled twice prior to my 3rd date because of covid & the hospital beds were at capacity in my area. So when I finally had my covid test two days before my surgery, I got really nervous. I never got that far! Ha! What helped me was to remember that I had a really competent doctor. If anything went wrong he would know what to do. He is a vascular surgeon. It sounds like yours is very competent also.

The stories on this site helped me greatly! That is how I knew what to expect after the surgery and how I was to prepare. Without this site, I think it would have been a mess. I am so grateful for everyone on here. Some people have excellent outcomes & some still have some issues. But at least you know what to expect. Just keep asking questions & be your own advocate at the hospital or with the doctors. I will look forward to hearing how your surgery goes.


Thank you for your thoughtful post, naturelover. I really appreciate all you said. It’s very helpful & encouraging information. :blush:

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Thank you so much for sharing your story! All information has helped a great deal when deciding such an important decision. Again, I’m getting cold feet and may still see what doctor suggests this Thursday. Regardless, I still appreciate the insight.