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How Long Does Thyroid Surgery Take

Total Thyroidectomy With Central Neck Dissection

What To Expect After Thyroid Surgery

A central neck dissection is when the lymph nodes closest to your thyroid in the central part of your neck are removed during your thyroidectomy.

This is done whenever abnormal lymph nodes are identified on ultrasound before surgery. Sometimes, for patients with larger and/or more extensive papillary thyroid cancer and for all medullary thyroid cancer, this lymph node surgery will be done prophylactically.

Care Of Your Incision

Your incision is covered with a waterproof protective dressing. You can shower as usual, but do not soak or scrub the dressing. After showering, pat dry. Often there will be a blood blister visible under the clear dressing. This is normal and no cause for alarm. Beginning five days after the operation, massage the scar for five minutes when you wake up, five minutes in the middle of the day, and another five minutes when you go to bed. There is good evidence that wound massage reduces pain and improves healing. Turn your head back and forth and roll your shoulders to reduce stiffness. Your dressing will be removed at your first post-operative visit. Most patients have sutures under the skin that dissolve by themselves. Replace the dressing with micropore tape and continue massage. Change the tape once a week. If you experience itching once the dressing is off, massage lotion into the scar. You might notice bruising around your incision. Your scar may become pink and hard, and your throat may feel tight. This hardening will peak at about 3-4 weeks, and will disappear over the next 3 to 4 months. You will also notice some numbness around the incision. This will gradually improve over time. You scar will continue to fade for 12 months. For best cosmetic results, keep it out of the sun.

What Is A Thyroidectomy

A thyroidectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of the thyroid gland and used to treat diseases of the thyroid gland including:

  • Thyroid cancer
  • Large goiters or thyroid nodules causing symptomatic obstruction such as swallowing or breathing difficulties.
  • Multi-nodular Goiter

A thyroidectomy is traditionally a minimally invasive surgery performed through a small horizontal incision in the front of the neck. The entire thyroid gland may be removed or just a single lobe, a portion of a lobe and the isthmus or other structures. Depending on the extent of the operation, patients may need to take the drug levothyroxine, an oral synthetic thyroid hormone.

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Why Might I Need A Thyroidectomy

A thyroidectomy may be appropriate for people who have a thyroid tumor, thyroid nodules or hyperthyroidism, which occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone.

Hyperthyroidism can be the result of an autoimmune problem, too much iodine in the diet, a benign tumor in the pituitary gland, too much thyroid medication, a swelling in the thyroid gland or an inflammatory process.

Who Performs A Thyroidectomy

Thyroidectomy scar

The following specialists perform a thyroidectomy:

  • Otolaryngologists specialize in the treatment of diseases and conditions of the ears, nose and throat.

  • General surgeons specialize in the surgical treatment of a wide variety of diseases, disorders and conditions.

  • Pediatric otolaryngologists specialize in the treatment of diseases and conditions of the ears, nose and throat in infants, children and adolescents.

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Thyroid Surgery Recovery Side Effects And Complications

If you are having thyroid surgery, known as a thyroidectomy, it’s important to know what to expect as you recover. Side effects of surgery are common and include neck pain, a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, and temporary hypoparathyroidism. Complications are much less common and can include bleeding , permanent hypoparathyroidism , and damage to nerves that can lead to long-term hoarseness and vocal changes.

Taking time to learn about post-thyroidectomy recovery can prepare you to cope with any symptoms and to be alert to any problems.

Further Treatment After Surgery

All tissue removed during the surgery is examined for cancer cells by a pathologist. The results will help confirm the type of cancer you have and determine whether you will require further treatment.

For some people this may mean more surgery to remove any remaining thyroid tissue. Other people may need thyroid hormone replacement therapy, radioactive iodine treatment or targeted therapy.

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How Long Can You Recover From Thyroid Surgery

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Is Thyroid Surgery Outpatient

What to Expect After Thyroid Surgery – James Wu, MD

With our surgeons it almost always is as we perform minimally invasive thyroid surgery with minimal recovery. However, if a patient has significant medical issues or needs extensive surgery, your surgeon may elect to have the procedure done at a hospital setting and may ask the patient to stay overnight.

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Caring For Your Incision

Your surgeon will talk to you about whether you should continue to wear a dressing over your incision. Depending on the surgeon, you may have stitches that will need to be removed or absorbable sutures that will not. If steri-strips were applied, these will usually stay in place for around a week. Most surgeons recommend leaving these alone until they fall off by themselves, rather than trying to remove them.

You will probably be able to shower, but should try to keep your neck as dry as possible. You should not submerge, soak, or scrub your incision, and bathing in a tub should be avoided until you see your surgeon. After showering, you can lightly pat your neck dry or use a hair dryer set on the “cool” setting.

Your incision may appear red and hard at first, and you may notice some slight swelling and bruising around the scar. If you experience itching, applying scar gel or aloe may provide relief, but talk to your surgeon before doing so. The hardening typically peaks about three weeks after surgery and then subsides over the next two to three months.

In time, your incision will turn pink and then white, and most are completely healed in six to nine months.

How Long Does Thyroid Surgery Take

When you are undergoing thyroid surgery with an expert, it can take anywhere from one to two hours, depending on how much of the thyroid is being removed and how large or stuck down it is. If you have only one lobe removed, then the surgery is much shorter than those where both lobes are removed. Patients who have thyroid cancer and need to have both of the lobes and the lymph nodes removed will be in surgery for 1.5 to 3.0 hours usually with our expert surgeons at C/V.

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How Much Does Thyroid Surgery Cost

For most patients and facilities around, the cost of thyroid surgery ranges based on exactly what was removed and what treatments were associated with the surgery. Each practice and facility will have its own costs associated with the surgery. Depending on your health insurance and your deductible for your plan, the cost could be more or less than other patients. Usually costs out of pocket are less when these procedures are performed at surgical centers than hospitals.

Ensure that you reach out to your doctors office regarding the cost of this surgery and any payment options available for you, if necessary. They can give you a quote on your surgery and give you a real estimate of what you will owe after the surgery is complete.

When Can Patients Resume Normal Activity After Thyroid Surgery

5 Simple Tips for Quick Recovery After Thyroid Surgery ...

Depending on individual recovery after thyroid surgery, patients can go back to the normal activity within a few days but with certain limitations. Strenuous activity and lifting heavy weight should be avoided for a week. The neck muscles may feel stiff and there may be soreness present for a few days. It can be corrected by moving neck from side to side and rolling shoulder or following advice of physical therapists.

For most patients the recovery period after thyroid surgery ranges around one or 2 weeks. Driving is restricted for a week. Depending on the amount of thyroid tissue removed, the patient is put on thyroid hormone. The need for thyroid replacement, calcium and other nutritional supplements must be discussed with the doctor.

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What Can I Expect After My Thyroidectomy

Knowing what to expect can help make your road to recovery after a thyroidectomy as smooth as possible.

How long will it take to recover?

You will stay in the recovery room after surgery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable. You may have a if a tube was placed in your windpipe during surgery. This is usually temporary, but tell your care team if you are uncomfortable.

You may go home on the same day if you are recovering well and can swallow liquids. A hospital stay of one to two days may be required in some cases.

Recovery after surgery is a gradual process. Recovery time varies depending on the procedure, type of anesthesia, your general health, age, and other factors. Full recovery takes two to four weeks.

Will I feel pain?

Pain control is important for healing and a smooth recovery. There will be discomfort after your surgery. Your doctor will treat your pain so you are comfortable and can get the rest you need. Call your doctor if your pain gets worse or changes because it may be a sign of a complication.

When should I call my doctor?

It is important to keep your follow-up appointments after a thyroidectomy. Contact your doctor for questions and concerns between appointments. Call your doctor right away or seek immediate medical care if you have:

  • Bleeding

How Long For Recovery After Thyroid Surgery

Thyroid surgery is commonly done to treat thyroid disorders like cancer, thyroid enlargement or overactive thyroid. While thyroid surgery is performed in various ways depending on the cause and extent of severity, the after care and recovery period too varies. This article deals with recovery period after thyroid surgery.

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What Are The Risks Of Thyroid Surgery

All surgery brings risk for complications like bleeding and infection. Thyroid surgery can also involve risks for damage to vocal cord nerves, which could cause hoarseness, and damage to your parathyroid glands, which are located behind and very close to your thyroid and regulate your bodys calcium levels.

What You Need To Know

Thyroid Lobectomy Surgery (UK NHS system)
  • Thyroid cancer, thyroid nodules and other conditions may require thyroidectomy.
  • Once the thyroid gland is removed, the person takes replacement thyroid hormone to keep the bodys functions in balance.
  • Thyroidectomy can be performed through an incision at the front of the neck, or through the mouth .

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How To Prepare For Thyroid Surgery

Once you are scheduled for thyroid surgery, you should do a few things to make sure that you are properly prepared. In the days leading up to your surgery, you want to maintain a healthy diet and make sure to get lots of rest.

Schedule a ride home after surgery as you will not be in any shape to drive.

Check with your doctor before you take your prescribed medications and any OTC supplements you may be taking stop all blood thinners prior to surgery according to your surgeons instructions.

Do not eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of the surgery.

Arrive at least two hours before your scheduled surgery so that you can be prepared in enough time before surgery begins.

It is important to go over all of these different components and any questions you may have from your doctor before you show up at the facility for surgery.

Morning of Surgery

Before you leave for the hospital, you can take a shower or bath. Make sure to use standard soap and warm water for your shower. You do not need to apply any perfume or lotion onto your body before surgery. Also, do not attempt to shave the area where the surgery will be. Allow the medical team to take care of this during the preparation stage.

Do You Gain Weight After Thyroid Surgery

Depending on how much of your thyroid was removed during the surgery will determine if medication will need to be taken for the duration of your life. With a half glad removal about 60-70% of patients will not need medication supplementation as the other side takes over. With total thyroidectomy 100% of patients will need medication after surgery. Once you get the right medication dosage and balance your hormones, the involuntary weight gain will start to subside. You will have your medication dosing coordinated by your endocrinologist or internist in most cases.

In most cases, this weight gain can be monitored and is much easier to avoid with a balanced diet. Maintain lean proteins and high amounts of vegetables in your diet to provide the nutrients your body needs. Make sure to take all medications prescribed by your doctor, especially if you had a total gland removal surgery. You will need this medication to function in place of your thyroid to maintain a healthy weight.

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Days Before Your Surgery

Follow your healthcare providers instructions for taking aspirin

If you take aspirin or a medication that contains aspirin, you may need to change your dose or stop taking it 7 days before your surgery. Aspirin can cause bleeding.

Follow your healthcare providers instructions. Dont stop taking aspirin unless they tell you to. For more information, read the resource Common Medications Containing Aspirin, Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs , or Vitamin E.

Stop taking vitamin E, multivitamins, herbal remedies, and other dietary supplements

Stop taking vitamin E, multivitamins, herbal remedies, and other dietary supplements 7 days before your surgery. These things can cause bleeding. For more information, read the resource Herbal Remedies and Cancer Treatment.

Reasons For Thyroid Surgery

Thyroid Surgery

The most common reason for thyroid surgery is the presence of nodules or tumors on the thyroid gland. Most nodules are benign, but some can be cancerous or precancerous.

Even benign nodules can cause problems if they grow large enough to obstruct the throat, or if they stimulate the thyroid to overproduce hormones .

Surgery can correct hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is frequently the result of an autoimmune disorder called Graves disease.

Graves disease causes the body to misidentify the thyroid gland as a foreign body and send antibodies to attack it. These antibodies inflame the thyroid, causing hormone overproduction.

Another reason for thyroid surgery is the swelling or enlargement of the thyroid gland. This is referred to as a goiter. Like large nodules, goiters can block the throat and interfere with eating, speaking, and breathing.

There are several different types of thyroid surgery. The most common are lobectomy, subtotal thyroidectomy, and total thyroidectomy.

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Hypocalcaemia After Total Thyroidectomy Tingling And Numbness Of Fingers And Toes

In up to 50% of patients who have a total thyroidectomy, the parathyroid glands do not function properly immediately. This is usually temporary and causes the blood calcium level to drop below normal . Symptoms of hypocalcaemia include numbness and tingling in your hands, soles of your feet and around your lips, and can become quite unpleasant. Some patients experience a “crawling” sensation in the skin, muscle cramps or headaches. These symptoms appear between 24 and 48 hours after surgery. It is rare for them to appear after 72 hours. Low blood calcium does not occur if only half the thyroid is removed.

Hypocalcaemia is treated with calcium tablets. If you are having a total thyroidectomy, I will check your parathyroid hormone before you leave hospital. If it is low, I will send you home with calcium and calcitriol , which will usually be temporary. If you develop tingling in the fingertips, toes, or lips, your calcium maybe low. Take two extra caltrate tablets The symptoms of tingling/numbness should improve within 30-45 minutes of taking the tablets. If the symptoms persist, you should take two more tablets and wait another 45 minutes. If they still persist after 3 extra doses, call my office in working hours, or after hours report to your nearest emergency room to have your blood calcium checked.

Hypocalcemia And Bone Health

Your bones have been starved of calcium during the time you have had hyperparathyroidism, and will now have the chance to grow strong again. After successful parathyroid surgery, I recommend plenty of dietary calcium. If you do not take at least three daily servings of calcium-rich foods, you may prefer to take Caltrate Plus twice a day to promote healthy bones. In addition to these supplements, an exercise routine using weights is also recommended. Your vitamin D should be kept > 75 to enable your intestine to absorb the calcium in your diet.

In a small number of patients who have parathyroid surgery, the remaining parathyroid glands have become lazy, and do not function properly immediately after surgery. It is very rare after the mini-surgery, but about 5% if you need both sides of the neck explored. This is usually temporary and causes the blood calcium level to drop below normal . Symptoms of hypocalcaemia include numbness and tingling in your hands, soles of your feet and around your lips. Some patients experience a “crawling” sensation in the skin, muscle cramps or headaches. These symptoms appear between 24 and 48 hours after surgery. It is rare for them to appear after 72 hours.

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