This leaflet has been designed to improve your
understanding of your forthcoming treatment and contains
answers to many of the common questions.
If you have any other questions that the leaflet does not
answer or would like further explanation please ask a
member of the medical or nursing staff.
What is the Sublingual Gland?
The sublingual gland is a salivary gland about the size of
an almond that lies underneath the tongue in the floor of
Saliva drains from it through a number of small tubes that
open on the inside of the mouth underneath the tongue.
The most common reason for removing a sublingual gland
is as a result of a blockage to these drainage tubes. This
can lead to a swelling of the floor of the mouth (ranula).
What does the operation involve?
The sublingual gland is removed under a general
anæsthesia. A cut around 2cm long (1½”) underneath the
tongue on the inside of the lower teeth. Once the gland
has been removed the incision is held together again with
stitches. These are usually dissolvable but may take
several weeks to disappear.
The length of time partly depends upon the degree of
difficulty. In an uncomplicated procedure it will take
approximately 30 minutes to remove the sublingual gland.
What can I expect after the operation?
You usually need a night in hospital following the surgery.
It is unlikely to be very sore but regular painkillers will be
provided for you. There is relatively little swelling following
sublingual gland removal.
The removal of one sublingual gland will not have an
impact on the amount of saliva that you produce. There
are many other salivary glands left in and around the
mouth that will still keep it moist.
Do I need any time off work?
It is usually advisable to take 1 week off from work to
recover from the surgery. During this time you should
avoid strenuous activity.
Is there anything that I need to do when I get home?
It is important to keep the wound dry for the first week
following surgery. It is important to remember that you will
not be able to drive or operate machinery for 48 hours
after your general anaesthetic.
Will I have a scar?
At the time of surgery, the wound is only gently held
together with a few stitches, so initially you will see some
gaps. Please do not be concerned by this. All cuts leave
a scar but inside the mouth, the majority of these fade with
time and are difficult to see when they are fully healed. It
will take a couple of months for your scar to fade
What are the possible problems?
Infections. Infection is uncommon but can happen if the
submandibular gland was badly infected. Wound infection
will require antibiotic treatment. Pus collected under the
skin may need to be drained.
Bleeding. Bleeding is unlikely to be a problem but can
occur from the blood vessels supplying the tongue (lingual
and sub-lingual vasculature). If it occurs, it usually does
so within the first 12 hours of surgery which is why you
need to stay in hospital overnight.
Hæmatoma. A blood clot can collect beneath the skin
(hæmatoma). This occurs in about 5% of patients and it
is sometimes necessary to return to the operating theatre
and remove the clot and replace the drain.
Numbness of Tongue. The Lingual Nerve, which gives
sensation and taste to one half of the tongue, runs close to
the duct of the gland. It very rarely gets injured.
However, if the Lingual Nerve is damaged, your tongue
may feel numb immediately after the operation. This
numbness may take several months to disappear and in a
minority of patients may be permanent.
Restricted Tongue Movement. The Hypoglossal Nerve is
only very rarely bruised. It is a nerve that makes the
tongue move. If it were to occur, it is unlikely to produce
any noticeable disability.
Submandibular Duct Damage. The submandibular duct is
the tube that carries saliva from the submandibular gland
into the mouth. The submandibular gland is a salivary
gland, about the size of a plum, that lies immediately
below the lower jaw at the top of the neck.
The duct runs close to the sublingual gland before
opening on the inside of the mouth under the tongue
immediately behind the lower front teeth. If this duct is
damaged, saliva may not drain properly from the
submandibular gland and the gland may therefore swell in
the upper part of the neck. The majority of these
swellings settle down on their own.
Will I need further appointments?
A review appointment will be arranged before you leave
hospital. We will keep a close eye on you for several
months following treatment to make sure that nothing
recurs and your symptoms settle.
British Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons
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|Last Updated 11th August 2010