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Beyond Beauty Blog: The Surgeon's Secrets

Ask the Doctor: Where should vocal cord surgery be done?

Swollen Glands and lymph nodes - vocal cord surgery in NYCAnswer: Vocal cord surgery should be done one place and one place only: in a hospital! There are a few reasons for this, and they are all very important.

When you undergo a procedure on your vocal cords at the hospital, you will be under general anesthesia. This is true for any vocal cord surgery/procedure, including biopsies, laser surgery and the removal of nodules and polyps. All of these conditions cause voice problems of varying degrees, and Dr Yagoda will let you know when surgery is necessary.

During general anesthesia for voice box surgery, a breathing tube will be inserted in your throat. This breathing tube is very, very important: Not only does it help you breathe, but it protects your airway!  Otherwise, when the vocal cords are “touched,” they will spontaneously close. This happens because the body assumes that if something touches the vocal cords, it is likely to be heading downward to your lungs.  Vocal cord closure is the body’s automatic mechanism to protect your lungs.  A breathing tube must be in place to keep the airway open so that oxygen can reach your heart and brain. 

In addition, vocal cord surgery should be done in the hospital for another reason.  Hospitals have the necessary equipment for vocal cord microsurgery.  This includes a surgical microscope that will magnify the vocal cords 400x.  In addition, lasers can assist the surgeon is performing precise and bloodless procedures.  

Now, true or false: Must vocal endoscopies be done in the hospital as well?

False! Vocal endoscopies can be done very safely and routinely in a voice specialist’s office. Endoscopies are simple procedures that do not require any manipulation or instrumentation of the vocal cords. In a matter of minutes — and while you are seated and awake — your vocal cords can be visualized. This allows the doctor to diagnose the vocal disorder.  But, remember, any procedure requiring a biopsy, laser or excision must be done in the operating room under general anesthesia.

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