A Thyroidectomy is the surgical removal of a part of all of your thyroid glands. Your thyroid is located around the neck and produces hormones that control every aspect of your body’s metabolism, from your heart rate to how efficiently you work through calories.
A Thyroidectomy is required in order to treat conditions such as thyroid cancer, an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), or goiters.
Depending on the amount of thyroid removed your thyroid may function normally after surgery. However, if your entire thyroid must be removed (total thyroidectomy) you will need to ingest a daily amount of thyroid hormone in order to replace your thyroid’s natural duties.
What is the recovery process from a thyroidectomy like?
Some common temporary ailments that you might endure after your thyroid surgery include:
- Sore throat
- Neck pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Weak voice
- Tingling fingers and mouth (requires calcium supplement)
The good news is again these symptoms are quite temporary, and should completely go away after 2-3 weeks. Your doctor will still recommend that you do not perform any heavy lifting or strenuous activities for about 3 weeks.
It’s important to avoid scrubbing or soaking the site of your surgery for at least a week after surgery, though regular showering is generally okay after one day.
Before you are released from the hospital, your medical team will schedule follow-up appointments, provide specific instructions for recovery at home, and prescribe any medications you may need.
Pain and other symptoms involving the incision site of your surgery should improve after a few days but may continue for a week or so. If you notice sudden swelling in your neck, this may signify an infection, and you should follow up with your medical team as soon as possible.
Does Thyroid Surgery have side effects?
If you are undergoing total thyroidectomy, you will need to take thyroid hormone replacements for the rest of your life. If your parathyroid gland was affected during surgery you may need calcium supplements as well to balance your calcium levels.
What is the recovery process like day to day?
As mentioned earlier, after your surgery you may experience:
- Sore Throat
- Weak Voice
- Neck pain
Your incision will need to be taken care of and you may need to avoid showering, pools, or baths for up to a week after in order to ensure proper healing. Your scar may start to grow pink and harden, and the surrounding area may grow dry and itchy.
While you should avoid any neck strain a week or two after surgery, after this you should begin to stretch out and move your neck as soon as you can without pain or difficulty. This will ensure that your neck does not permanently become stiff.
When can I return to normal activities?
After about 10 -14 days you may be able to resume vigorous physical activity such as running or working out, but you should still take it slow in the beginning. Be mindful of any sudden swelling or new symptoms and alert your doctor if they come up. After 3 weeks or so you should back to normal activities without much problem.