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Neck surgery. Those two words sound incredibly intimidating, and for good reason. In the past, neck surgery complications made it a risky proposition, sometimes creating more problems than it fixed. The fact of the matter, however, is that modern techniques and equipment have made neck surgery as routine as cataract surgery or gallbladder removal.


A common concern when it comes to neck surgery complications is the anesthetic aspect of the procedure. Long gone are the days of ether masks and unreliable injectable medications. Although there is always some risk, as with any medical procedure, today’s anesthetic protocols are safe enough that many outpatient facilities, such as dentists’ offices and cosmetic surgery centers, are able to perform procedures without anesthesiologists.

Rest assured, your neck surgeon will have a highly competent anesthesiologist keeping an eye on every single aspect of your anesthesia, ensuring that you are receiving the best care while you’re under. It’s this professional’s job to focus on you and you only.

Common Myths About Neck Surgery

Well-meaning friends and family members are often eager to share their anecdotal stories. The truth is, most of these are completely unfounded or based on experiences from decades ago.

Loss of Mobility

It’s likely you’ll run into someone at some point who will tell you that neck surgery can only lead to a loss of mobility. The truth, however, is that most people actually gain mobility in their neck, shoulders and head after neck surgery. In the past, it may have been common for those who underwent fusion surgeries to lose some of their mobility. This was typically due to less precise and more invasive surgical techniques, not to mention less rigorous and carefully planned physical therapy regimens. The point of neck surgery is not to merely correct a flaw or reduce pain; it’s to help you reclaim your life and resume the activities you once enjoyed and participated in.

Unneeded Surgery

You may also be under the assumption that surgeons recommend surgery even if you don’t actually need it. In reality, no qualified surgeon is going to recommend you have unnecessary neck surgery. Your surgeon is there to make an experienced assessment of your condition and help guide you to the best option for your individual case. Whether that route is surgical or not will be determined by your needs and desired outcome.


For some reason, neck surgery complications are almost always mentally associated with paralysis. Neck surgery is no more dangerous or risky than any other surgery. With precision instruments and an enormous amount of hands-on experience, your surgeon will work with pinpoint accuracy. Innovative equipment also allows the surgeon and support team to recognize when nerves may be compromised. Every surgical procedure carries risks; however, with the proper preparation, competent surgeons and the right information, those risks go down exponentially.

The Neck Brace

They’re clunky. They’re bulky. They’re unbecoming. Neck braces are somewhat akin to the canine “cone of shame.” No one wants to be shouldered with a neck brace for any longer than they have to be. It’s a common belief that with neck surgery comes long stretches of time wearing a brace. With advances in surgical techniques and minimally invasive procedures, many patients don’t have to wear a collar at all after surgery. If this is of concern for you, talk to your surgeon about his expectations for your recovery and what may or may not be needed.

Loss of Sensation in Your Neck or Other Parts of Your Body

This is an incredibly unlikely scenario. There may already be irreversible nerve damage that surgery cannot resolve, but if anything, undergoing surgical correction will help alleviate any pressure or impingement that is causing nerve irritation. Specialized monitoring equipment keeps the surgical team fully apprised of where each and every nerve is and allows them to work carefully around these structures. Loss of sensation is not a common neck surgery complication.

The (Not So) Long Road to Recovery

You may be concerned that recovery from neck surgery will be a long, painful, drawn-out process. Fortunately, this is not typically the case. For example, most hospital stays following neck surgery last well under a week. As soon as you’re taken to your room, you’ll be on the path to recovery.

Once you’re sent home, you’ll start incrementally increasing your activity level and, in many cases, be back to your regular lifestyle within six months. Most people start noticing a difference in their quality of life (for the better) almost immediately.

You will be moderately restricted in your activities — certain movements, lifting or stretching may be off-limits for the first few weeks or months. However, unlike in the past, you won’t be bedridden and instructed to not move. In reality, you’ll have a lot of hard, rewarding work leading to a fully restored lifestyle.

Any concerns you may have surrounding neck surgery complications and risks are completely valid. You are, after all, making perhaps one of the biggest decisions of your life. This isn’t a reason to forego surgery — it’s really an opportunity to talk candidly with your doctors and surgeon to learn all you can. Going into your surgery armed with knowledge is the best possible move you can make for your emotional and physical health before and after your procedure.Neurosurgeon Consultation NJ