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Vocal cords are very delicate structures and need sufficient care after surgery to achieve good healing. Every patient recovers at different speeds depending on the type of problem and the extent of the surgery.

What to expect after surgery?
  • Most patients will have a sore throat after vocal cord surgery. Pain medicines and antibiotics may be prescribed for a few days to help with healing and your comfort.
  • Slightly elevated temperature is not unusual after laryngeal surgery.
  • Hoarseness and weak voice are usual after laryngeal surgery
  • It is normal to experience altered taste, numbness of the tongue, jaw pain, or mild difficulty with swallowing. These symptoms usually go away in a couple of days. If they persist for more than 5 days, call your doctor.

Generally, you will need at least one week of rest at home or in a quiet environment. In some cases, the doctor will instruct you to be on complete voice rest. This means NO talking. You will need to communicate with friends and family by writing. Whispering is not permitted after any vocal cord surgery. Whispering generally results in maladaptive habits that can be difficult to break during the healing process.

After your vocal cord surgery, you will follow up with the doctor, as well as the speech therapist. You will begin speaking initially with the speech therapist, so that you can be coached and taught how to use your voice in the safest way during the healing process. We will also examine your vocal cords are regular intervals to ensure that healing is progressing well. Your participation with the doctor and in therapy during the healing period is necessary to optimize the quality of your voice.

Voice surgery is somewhat like joint surgery; a period of rehabilitation is necessary to optimize function. You will want to very slowly and progressively increase voice use as directed by your doctor and speech therapist. Your doctor will decide when you should go back to work or continue with voice rest.

Dos and Don'ts following surgery:
  • Rest your voice as much as possible
  • Drink 8-10 glasses of plain water daily to stay hydrated and avoid excess phlegm
  • Avoid throat clearing and coughing
  • Avoid foods that may cause excessive phlegm such as fried food, spicy food, coffee, tea, dairy products, colas, chocolate, and citrus fruits/juices
  • Follow up with your doctor and speech therapist as directed
  • Avoid loud talking, excessive talking, yelling, screaming, etc
  • Think delicate, light and easy voice
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco use
  • Avoid whispering
  • Use a "confidential voice", a volume and quality of voice that you would use in talking to a friend in a crowded area about a personal topic
  • Monitor you voice abuses during these weeks; Reduce your voice abuses
  • Do understand WHY you had surgery so that you can prevent a recurrence of your original problem
Consult doctor immediately if you experience:
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Excessive pain in your throat not relieved by medication
  • Coughing up blood persistently
  • Inability to swallow
  • Persistent high temperature
Know Your ENT Specialist
Dr Paul Mok
Senior Consultant ENT Surgeon
MBBS, FRCS (Glasgow), FAMS (ORL)

Dr Paul Mok Kan Hwei is a certified specialist in Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery (ENT) and has had a distinguished career in public service for the past 23 years.

He cares for patients with a wide variety of ENT conditions including managing patients with nasal allergies, sinus infections, ear problems and swellings in the head and neck region. His special areas of interests are in Voice, Swallowing and managing patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea.