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HomeHealthWhat Are The Side Effects Of Having Your Thyroid Removed

What Are The Side Effects Of Having Your Thyroid Removed

What Happens To Your Body If Your Thyroid Is Removed

Surgical Removal of the Thyroid Gland

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Berenguer Kobel

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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.

    How Will You Partner With The Rest Of My Medical Team

    After surgery, youll likely need monitoring of your thyroid hormone levels and, in the case of thyroid cancer, follow-up treatment and testing. You want to know that the people taking care of different aspects of your thyroid disease or thyroid cancer are working together and communicating as a team, said Sosa. At Duke, weve created a clinic where you, your surgeon and your endocrinologist can meet at the same time, in the same place.

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    How Should I Be Evaluated Prior To The Operation

    As for other operations, all patients considering thyroid surgery should be evaluated preoperatively with a thorough and detailed medical history and physical exam including cardiopulmonary evaluation. An electrocardiogram and a chest x-ray prior to surgery are often recommended for patients who are over 45 years of age or who are symptomatic from heart disease. Blood tests may be performed to determine if a bleeding disorder is present.

    Importantly, any patient who has had a change in voice or who has had a previous neck operation and/or who has had a suspected invasive thyroid cancer should have their vocal cord function evaluated routinely before surgery. This is necessary to determine whether the recurrent laryngeal nerves that control the vocal cord muscles are functioning normally.

    Finally, in rare cases, if medullary thyroid cancer is suspected, patients should be evaluated for endocrine tumors that occur as part of familial syndromes including adrenal tumors and enlarged parathyroid glands that produce excess parathyroid hormone .

    How Is A Thyroidectomy Performed

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    Your thyroidectomy will be performed in a hospital or outpatient surgery setting. Your surgeon will perform a thyroidectomy using one of the following approaches:

    • Minimally invasive surgery involves inserting special instruments and an endoscope through a small incision in your neck. An endoscope is a thin, lighted instrument with a small camera. The camera transmits pictures of the inside of your body to a video screen viewed by your surgeon while performing surgery. Minimally invasive surgery generally involves a faster recovery and less pain than open surgery. This is because it causes less damage to tissues and organs. Your surgeon will make small incisions instead of a larger one used in open surgery. Surgical tools are threaded around muscles and tissues instead of cutting through or displacing them as in open surgery.

    • Open surgery involves making a three to four inch incision in your neck. Open surgery allows your surgeon to directly view and access the surgical area. Open surgery generally involves a longer recovery and more than minimally invasive surgery. Open surgery requires a larger incision and more cutting and displacement of muscle and other tissues than minimally invasive surgery. Despite this, open surgery may be a safer or more effective method for certain patients.

    Your surgeon will perform a thyroidectomy using general anesthesia. In some cases, a thyroidectomy may only require local anesthesia.

    What to expect the day of your thyroidectomy

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    What To Expect After The Operation


    You will have one scar, 3-4 inches across, along your collar line. This will run horizontally along the natural lines of the skin in your neck. After a few weeks it should be healing well, and after 12 months or so it will hardly be visible.


    With thyroid surgery, many treatment centres now use skin clips on the outside of the neck instead of stitches. You may have your clips removed 2-3 days after your operation, before you leave hospital, or you may have them removed at around 5-6 days. In this case, they will be removed be your GP or practice nurse. A small drain will be attached to your wound to prevent fluid building up. This will be removed after 2-3 days.


    You do not need to keep the wound covered with a dressing. Exposure to the air will help the wound to heal more quickly. You can wash as normal after the clips have been removed, but take care to pat the wound dry gently.


    Tiredness and feeling emotional


    Painkillers may well cause constipation, so its important to get plenty of fibre in your diet while you are recovering. Fresh fruit and vegetables will help to keep your bowels moving regularly.

    About Your Thyroid Gland

    Your thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the lower part of the front of your neck . It makes hormones that control the way your body turns oxygen and calories into energy. Your thyroid is made up of a left lobe and a right lobe. The area where the lobes join is called the isthmus.

    Your parathyroid glands are 4 small glands located behind your thyroid. They make a hormone that helps control the level of calcium in your blood.

    Lymph nodes are small oval or round structures found throughout your body. Theyre part of your immune system and make and store cells that fight infection. They also filter bacteria, viruses, cancer cells, and other waste products out of your lymphatic fluid.

    Figure 1. Your thyroid gland

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    Risks And Side Effects Of Thyroid Surgery

    Complications are less likely to happen when your operation is done by an experienced thyroid surgeon. Patients who have thyroid surgery are often ready to leave the hospital within a day after the operation. Potential complications of thyroid surgery include:

    • Temporary or permanent hoarseness or loss of voice. This can happen if the larynx or windpipe is irritated by the breathing tube that was used during surgery. It may also occur if the nerves to the larynx are damaged during surgery. The doctor should examine your vocal cords before surgery to see if they move normally.
    • Damage to the parathyroid glands . This can lead to low blood calcium levels, causing muscle spasms and feelings of numbness and tingling.
    • Excessive bleeding or formation of a major blood clot in the neck
    • Infection

    How Many Thyroid Surgeries Do You Do A Year


    Duke research shows that surgeons who perform 25 or more thyroid surgeries a year have the lowest complication rates. Yet about half of all surgeons who do thyroid surgeries do just one a year. If a doctor does fewer than 25 procedures a year on average, their patients have about a 50 percent increase in the likelihood of having a complication, said Sosa.

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    Pain Management At Home

    Take NSAIDS like ibuprofen , naproxen or acetaminophen for the first 3-5 days as needed. Take medication as directed on the medication container. To prevent acetaminophen overdose, do not take acetaminophen when you are taking the pain reliever – Percocet – that was prescribed on your discharge from the hospital. They both contain acetaminophen. If you take the Percocet or any other narcotic – DO NOT drive a car or drink alcohol.

    Will I Need To Take A Thyroid Pill After My Operation

    The answer to this depends on how much of the thyroid gland is removed. If half thyroidectomy is performed, there is an 80% chance you will not require a thyroid pill UNLESS you are already on thyroid medication for low thyroid hormone levels or have evidence that your thyroid function is on the lower side in your thyroid blood tests. If you have your entire gland removed or if you have had prior thyroid surgery and now are facing removal of the remaining thyroid then you have no internal source of thyroid hormone remaining and you will definitely need lifelong thyroid hormone replacement.

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    What Are The Risks And Potential Complications Of A Thyroidectomy

    As with all surgeries, a thyroidectomy involves risks and possible complications. Complications may become serious and life threatening in some cases. Complications can develop during surgery or recovery.

    General risks of surgery

    • Damage to the parathyroid glands causing problems controlling your bodys calcium levels

    • Difficulty breathing, which is a rare complication

    • Nerve damage, which can lead to permanent , coughing, swallowing problems, problems speaking, or other voice changes

    • Nerve irritation leading to temporary voice changes, hoarseness or .

    • Temporary rise in the level of thyroid hormones

    Reducing your risk of complications

    You can reduce the risk of certain complications by following your treatment plan and:

    • Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before surgery and during recovery

    • Informing your doctor if you are nursing or if there is any possibility of

    • Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns, such as bleeding, fever, increase in pain, or wound redness, swelling or drainage

    • Taking your medications exactly as directed

    • Telling all members of your care team if you have any

    Why Is A Thyroidectomy Performed

    Does thyroid have any side effects ?

    Your doctor may recommend a thyroidectomy to treat a variety of diseases, disorders and conditions of the thyroid. Your doctor may only consider a thyroidectomy for you if other treatment options with less risk of complications have been ineffective. Ask your doctor about all of your treatment options and consider getting a second opinion before having a thyroidectomy.

    Your doctor may recommend a thyroidectomy for:

    • Benign thyroid tumors, nodules or cysts

    • or an enlarged thyroid gland. Surgery may be recommended for a goiter that interferes with breathing and swallowing.

    • when radioactive iodine and medications are not options

    • Thyroid cancer

    • Thyrotoxicosis, also called thyroid crisis or thyroid storm, is a sudden worsening of hyperthyroidism that can be life threatening.

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    Essential Tips To Cope Up With The Side Effects Of Thyroid Removal:

    Here in this section we will talk about some of the tips so as to help you cope up with the side effects of thyroid removal procedures

    • We discussed earlier that after your thyroid removal surgery, you may have difficulty in swallowing. It is essential for you to rely of soft and healthy foods.
    • You can use more sauces and gravies, or the more of the moist foods after the surgery which would be easier to swallow as compared to the dry foods.
    • Go for long and slow cooking so as to soften the meat and vegetables you prepare for your diet.
    • Chop the vegetables or meat finely before or after cooking.
    • Apart from this, take healthy and nutritious diet so as to help self with healing. Talk to a dietician for your appropriate diet after the thyroid removal.
    • Using Aloe vera, Bio-oil to soften the skin around the wound and prevent dryness while its healing period can be beneficial.
    • You can also use non scented moisturising cream to your scar once your wound is healed.
    • Talk to your doctor and take prescribed medications in case you have high fever, swollen or painful neck and also in case of infection.

    Written, Edited or Reviewed By:Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc.This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimerLast Modified On: April 6, 2018

    What Should I Expect After A Partial Thyroidectomy

    Tell your healthcare providers if you have difficulty breathing or swallowing. Tell them if your bandage feels like it is getting tighter. You will have blood tests to check your calcium and thyroid hormone blood levels.

    • Medicine may be given to bring your thyroid hormone level back to normal. A partial thyroidectomy means your thyroid gland can produce some thyroid hormone. You may need to take medicine daily to keep your thyroid hormone level steady. You may be given pain medicine after surgery. Radioactive iodine may be given if your thyroid gland was removed because of cancer. This medicine may kill cancer cells that were not taken out during surgery.
    • Deep breathing helps open air passages and prevent a lung infection. Slowly take a deep breath and hold the breath as long as you can. Then let your breath out. Take 10 deep breaths in a row every hour while awake. You may be asked to use an incentive spirometer to help you with this. Put the plastic piece into your mouth and slowly take a breath as deep and as long as you can. Hold it as long as you can. Then let your breath out.

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    What Are The Side Effects Of Thyroid Removal

    Side effects of thyroid removal procedures include sore throat, damage to the nerves that attach to the vocal cords and impaired parathyroid glands that can lead to depleted calcium levels, according to Healthline. Individuals may also experience an imbalance in thyroid hormone levels that can usually be treated with medication.

    Additional side effects and complications of thyroid removal surgery include temporary breathing difficulties, voice loss and obstruction of the airways, explains MedlinePlus. While side effects are possible, the prognosis for thyroid removal surgery is excellent in most cases. Individuals who undergo total thyroidectomy procedures as opposed to partial thyroidectomies are usually required to take thyroid hormone replacement medications for the remainder of their lives.

    Doctor Visits And Follow

    Side effects of not taking thyroid medication for Hypothyroidism!

    Your health care team will explain what tests you need and how often they should be done. Your schedule of doctor visits, exams, and tests will depend on the original extent of your cancer, the specific type of thyroid cancer you had, how it was treated, and other factors.

    Papillary or follicular cancer: If you have had papillary or follicular cancer, and your thyroid gland has been completely removed or ablated, your doctors may consider at least one radioactive iodine scan after treatment, especially if you are at higher risk for recurrence. This is usually done about 6 to 12 months later. If the result is negative, you will generally not need further scans unless you have symptoms or other abnormal test results.

    Your blood will also be tested regularly for TSH and thyroglobulin levels. Thyroglobulin is made by thyroid tissue, so after total thyroid removal and ablation it should be at very low levels or not be found in your blood at all. If the thyroglobulin level begins to rise, it might be a sign the cancer is coming back, and further testing will be done. This usually includes a radioactive iodine scan, and may include PET scans and other imaging tests.

    For those with a low-risk, small papillary cancer that was treated by removing only one lobe of the thyroid, routine physical exams by your doctor, thyroid ultrasounds and thyroid blood tests are typical.

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    What Is A Thyroidectomy

    A thyroidectomy is the surgical removal of a diseased thyroid gland. Your thyroid gland is located in the front of your neck, below your larynx . It consists of two lobes, one on each side of your trachea . Your thyroid gland plays an important role in regulating your body’s metabolism and calcium balance. A thyroidectomy is a treatment for a variety of diseases, disorders and conditions of the thyroid gland.

    A thyroidectomy is a common but major surgery with serious risks and potential complications. You may have less invasive treatment options. Consider getting a second opinion about all your treatment choices before having a thyroidectomy.

    Types of thyroidectomy

    The types of thyroidectomy procedures include:

    • Lobectomy or partial thyroidectomy removes one lobe or only a portion of your thyroid gland.

    • removes only a small portion of your thyroid gland. This procedure is a treatment for small, benign thyroid nodules or cysts.

    • Sub-total or near-total thyroidectomy removes almost all of your thyroid gland, leaving behind a very small amount of thyroid tissue.

    • Total or completion thyroidectomy removes all thyroid tissue. A completion thyroidectomy refers to the removal of any remaining thyroid tissue after you have had a previous or partial thyroidectomy.

    Other procedures that may be performed

    How Much Of My Thyroid Gland Needs To Be Removed

    Your surgeon should explain the planned thyroid operation, such as lobectomy or total thyroidectomy, and the reasons why such a procedure is recommended.

    For patients with papillary or follicular thyroid cancer, many, but not all, surgeons recommend total or neartotal thyroidectomy when they believe that subsequent treatment with radioactive iodine might be necessary. For patients with larger or more invasive cancers and for patients with medullary thyroid cancer, local lymph node dissection may be necessary to remove possibly involved lymph node metastases.

    A hemithyroidectomy may be recommended for overactive solitary nodules or for benign onesided nodules that are causing local symptoms such as compression, hoarseness, shortness of breath or difficulty swallowing. A total or near total thyroidectomy may be recommended for patients with Graves Disease or for patients with large multinodular goiters.

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    What Is Your Complication Rate

    The answer you want to hear is the surgeons own complication rate for the procedurenot the average 1 percent reported in the medical literature. If the surgeon only does two thyroid surgeries a year and one patient had a problem, that makes it a 50 percent risk, said Roman. Dont be shy about asking for this information. Said Sosa, Its the ethical responsibility of the surgeon to report the truth and to know their own data.


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