Carotid Artery Surgery: What to Expect During and After Surgery

Blog Post
By South Valley Vascular
November 6, 2023

What Is Carotid Artery Disease?

Carotid Artery Disease is a disease in which the blood vessels in the neck, which are responsible for carrying blood from the heart to the brain, narrow. This condition may be caused by cholesterol buildup in the blood vessels, also known as atherosclerosis. Blood clots can form here and travel up into your brain.

You may have this condition for a long time before you have any symptoms. The most common symptoms include:

  • Transient ischemic attacks, more commonly referred to as mini-strokes
  • Strokes, which are known to occur when the blood supply to your brain is either interrupted or seriously reduced
  • Temporary loss of vision in one of your eyes


The most common symptoms are mini-strokes or strokes. When this condition is discovered because you’ve had a stroke or mini-stroke, the blood flow to your brain may be improved by taking blood thinners and cholesterol-lowering medications. However, if there’s severe narrowing to the blood vessels leading to your brain, you may need surgery to open the blood vessel. 

Your likelihood of needing surgery grows if you have carotid artery blockages. These occur when plaque (fatty deposits) clog the blood vessels responsible for delivering blood to your brain and head. These blockages will increase the likelihood that you’ll have a mini-stroke or a stroke. 

What Is Carotid Artery Surgery?

Carotid endarterectomy is a type of surgery used to reduce the risk of stroke from carotid artery disease. During this procedure, a surgeon will open the blood vessel and remove any plaque that has built up. Unfortunately, this surgery is not without risk. Potential risks include a stroke, heart attack, or even death. This is especially true if you’re 75 years old or older or if you have been diagnosed with another serious medical condition, such as diabetes or severe heart or lung disease.

What Should You Expect During and After Surgery?

When you’ve been told you need surgery for your carotid artery blockages, you may find yourself wondering what you should expect. One of the main things you should expect is for the incision in your neck to be sore for around a week after you’ve had your surgery. Initially, the area around your incision may be swollen and bruised. You may also experience numbness in the area in front of the incision, which will be around your jaw and earlobe. This numbness should get better in about 6 to 12 months after the surgery.

While it will take some time for the discomfort to go away, you should be able to return to your normal activities about three or four weeks after surgery. Your doctor may let you get back to your daily routine as soon as you feel up to it, though. 

Expect to need some help with meal preparation and housekeeping throughout your recovery. You should not drive until your incision is healed and you can turn your head without any discomfort. You should have someone drive you home from the hospital after your surgery.

Who Should You Trust for Your Surgery?

When you need carotid artery surgery, you want to know you have placed your health in the best hands possible. If you live in or around the southern San Joaquin Valley, call (559) 625-4118 or visit South Valley Vascular. This team has years of experience in the vascular health field.