Laryngectomy means the removal of the larynx or voice box. A laryngectomee is a person who has had this essential and life-saving operation – a challenge which thousands of people have met successfully. After the operation the patient breathes through an opening (stoma) in the neck.
What happens after Laryngectomy?
Nowadays, in most cases, a laryngectomee can start learning to speak again within a few days of recovering from the operation. Here the knowledge, care and training of the Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) play a vital part in helping Laryngectomees gain a ‘new’ voice, using various methods that are deemed best for the individual, including a ‘voice-valve’, fitted between the oesophagus and the trachea.
In most cases, a Laryngectomee can be fit enough to leave hospital within 2 weeks of surgery, and then attend regular hospital outpatient clinics for check-ups, dietary monitoring, medication and help with developing a stronger voice. As time goes by, the clinic visits will normally be changed to longer periods.
Many Laryngectomees experience loss of smell and/or loss of taste, but one or the other can return over longer periods. Other than that, by establishing a healthy diet, and regularly practising developing a near-normal voice, there is no reason why a Laryngectomee cannot enjoy a good, near-normal quality of life.