A partial laryngectomy preserves the voice. The surgeon removes only part of the voice box, just one vocal cord, part of a cord, or just the epiglottis, and the stoma is temporary. After a brief recovery period, the trache tube is removed, and the stoma closes up. The patient can then breathe and talk in the usual way. In some cases, however, the voice may be hoarse or weak.
In a total laryngectomy, the whole voice box is removed, and the stoma is permanent. The patient, called a laryngectomee, breathes through the stoma. A laryngectomee must learn to speak with air coming from the esophagus, an external device, or implanted prosthesis.