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How Do I Take Care of My Voice After Voice Surgery?

  Source: By Dr David Lau, Visiting Consultant, Department of Otolaryngology, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.  

Voice rest is particularly important after surgery of your vocal folds; this may mean remaining silent for a period of time.

After voice surgery it is important to look after your voice to get the best results from the operation.

Caring for your voice after voice surgery

Resting your voice is particularly important following microsurgery of your vocal folds (the part of the voice box that vibrates to produce sound). Voice rest may mean remaining silent for a prescribed time period. This may last up to two weeks, which is the healing time for the vocal folds. You may find this difficult, but it is important that you try.

  • Have a pen and paper, or erasable pad handy to communicate with other people.
  • Usually it is necessary to take medical leave from work.
  • If you really must speak, do so in a soft voice, and use short sentences.
  • Do not try to soften your voice by whispering, as whispering strains the vocal folds.
  • Avoid shouting, coughing and throat clearing as these actions all require considerable force to the vocal folds.

Following a period of total voice rest, you must still avoid overusing your voice, particularly in the initial few weeks. This allows your vocal folds to complete their healing process. Overuse may have contributed to your voice problem in the first place, and your speech therapist and surgeon will guide you on how much you can safely use your voice.

Control acid reflux

Take care to minimise the effects of acid reflux. Acid and digestive juices from the stomach can be very harmful to the delicate vocal folds, especially when they are recovering from surgery. Being careful with your diet is an important part of controlling acid reflux. Usually your doctor will also prescribe medication to reduce acid production or minimise its effect on the voice box. Do refer to the article on acid reflux which gives more details on this subject.

Other measures and medications

Your surgeon may prescribe a number of other types of medications: Cough suppressants can help control throat irritation and the urge to cough, which sometimes follow surgery. Simple measures such as sipping water and honey drinks can also be soothing. Other medications may help control the amount of mucous and phlegm in the throat.

Occasionally, steroids are given to reduce inflammation, and antibiotics may be used to prevent or treat infection. These medications are not given in every case, and your surgeon will discuss the need for them. Lozenges are usually discouraged as they can make your throat dry.

Long-term changes to avoid further voice problems

Following voice surgery, it is important to continue preventive measures to stop the voice problem from recurring. This may require lifestyle changes, reducing your vocal load at work, or continued practice with the speech therapist to improve your voice technique. Most likely, you will already have started working on these areas before surgery. Remember that your speech therapist and voice surgeon are there to help and guide you.

Article contributed by the Dept of Otolaryngology at:

Singapore General Hospital (SGH)

Ref: T12

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