This is surgery to remove the voice box (larynx). In some cases, a partial laryngectomy may be possible.

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Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review possible problems such as:

  • Infection
  • Breathing problems
  • Excess swelling or bleeding
  • Wound opens
  • Wound heals poorly
  • Damage to nearby structures
  • Blood clots
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Saliva leaking out to the skin
  • Unable to speak— aphonia
  • Cancer comes back

Your chances of problems may be higher for:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Chronic diseases such as diabetes or obesity



This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.


American Cancer Society 

National Cancer Institute 


Canadian Cancer Society 

Health Canada 


Hanasono MM, Lin D, Wax MK, Rosenthal EL. Closure of laryngectomy defects in the age of chemoradiation therapy. Head Neck. 2012;34(4):580-588.

Laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: Accessed July 2, 2018.

Laryngectomy. Encyclopedia of Surgery website. Available at: Accessed July 2, 2018.

Treatment of head and neck cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:  . Updated January 26, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018.