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What To Expect With Thyroid Removal

Recuperation Time And Restrictions

What should I expect after thyroid surgery?

Most people are advised to take roughly two weeks off from work to recuperate, depending on their occupation. You should not drive as long as you continue to need pain medications, and some surgeons recommend abstaining from driving for the first week after surgery altogether.

You should also avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous activities for a few weeks. The excess activity could increase your chance of developing a hematoma or keep your wound from healing properly. Light housekeeping and walking are usually fine once you arrive home.

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.

What Will Happen In Surgery

You will be given general anesthesia to put you to sleep.;You are positioned with special pillows under your neck to tilt your head back.;An incision is made at the base of your neck and is about three to four inches long.;Using magnifying lenses, the surgeon locates the thyroid gland and associated structures and all or part of the thyroid is removed.;In some cases additional surgery will involve removal of lymph nodes and other structures. The incision is stitched closed and is then covered with steri-strip tapes and a dry gauze dressing.;The operation generally lasts from two to three hours.;After surgery, you will stay in the recovery room for several hours.;You will be monitored closely as you recover from the anesthesia.

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Why Is A Thyroidectomy Performed

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.

Will I Be Able To Lead A Normal Life After Surgery

Thyroid gland removal: Procedure, side effects, and recovery

Yes. Once you have recovered from the effects of thyroid surgery, you will usually be able to do anything that you could do prior to surgery. Some patients become hypothyroid following thyroid surgery, requiring treatment with thyroid hormone . This is especially true if you had your whole thyroid gland removed. Generally, you will be started on thyroid hormone the day after surgery, even if there are plans for treatment with radioactive iodine.

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When To Call Your Healthcare Provider

  • You have a fever of 100.5 °F or higher.
  • You have drainage from your incision.
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • The skin around your incision is warmer than usual.
  • You have more discomfort in the area around your incision than usual.
  • The area around your incision is more red than usual.
  • You have new or increased swelling around your incision.
  • You have numbness, twitching, or tingling around your mouth, fingertips, or toes.
  • You have any questions or concerns.

Living As A Thyroid Cancer Survivor

For many people with thyroid cancer, treatment may remove or destroy the cancer. Completing treatment can be both stressful and exciting. You may be relieved to finish treatment, but find it hard not to worry about cancer growing or coming back. This is very common concern if you;have had cancer.

For other people, thyroid cancer may never go away completely, or it might come back in another part of the body. These people may get regular treatments with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or other therapies to help keep the cancer under control for as long as possible. Learning to live with cancer that does not go away can be difficult and very stressful.

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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.

Keeping Health Insurance And Copies Of Your Medical Records

What to Expect After Thyroid Surgery – James Wu, MD

Even after treatment, its very important to keep health insurance. Tests and doctor visits cost a lot, and even though no one wants to think of their cancer coming back, this could happen.

At some point after your cancer treatment, you might find yourself seeing a new doctor who doesnt know about your medical history. Its important to keep copies of your medical records to give your new doctor the details of your diagnosis and treatment. Learn more in Keeping Copies of Important Medical Records.

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What You Need To Know About Thyroid Removal Side Effects

Are you and your doctor discussing the possibility of thyroid surgery? If so, it is likely that you have many questions about what to expect once the procedure is completed. To help you plan for your recovery, we have gathered answers to some of the most commonly asked questions we receive from our thyroid patientsâso you can be well informed, feel confident in your care, and move forward into better health.

Doctor Visits And Follow

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 To Expect After Thyroid Surgery

After thyroid surgery, you will probably stay in hospital for one or two nights to recover from surgery. Your neck wound will be closed with stitches, adhesive strips or small clips.

Your nursing team will talk to you about how to care for your surgical wound site once you go home to prevent it becoming infected. The surgeon may arrange blood tests to check on your recovery.

Most people who have thyroid surgery will feel better within 12 weeks, but recovery may take longer for some people.

For more on this, see;What to expect after thyroid cancer.

Learn more about:

Within 30 Days Of Your Surgery

Thyroid removal surgery; What to expect

Presurgical Testing

Before your surgery, youll have an appointment for presurgical testing . The date, time, and location will be printed on the appointment reminder from your surgeons office. Its helpful to bring the following things to your PST appointment:

  • A list of all the medications youre taking, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, patches, and creams.
  • Results of any tests done outside of MSK, such as a cardiac stress test, echocardiogram, or carotid doppler study.
  • The name and telephone number of your healthcare provider.

You can eat and take your usual medications the day of your appointment.

During your PST appointment, youll meet with a nurse practitioner . They work closely with anesthesiology staff . Your NP will review your medical and surgical history with you. You may have tests, such as an electrocardiogram to check your heart rhythm, a chest x-ray, blood tests, and any other tests needed to plan your care. Your NP may also recommend that you see other healthcare providers.

Your NP will talk with you about which medications you should take the morning of your surgery.

Identify your caregiver

Your caregiver plays an important role in your care. Before your surgery, you and your caregiver will learn about your surgery from your healthcare providers. After your surgery, your caregiver will take you home when youre discharged from the hospital. Theyll also help you care for yourself at home.

For caregivers


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What Is Thyroid Hormone Replacement Therapy

Thyroid hormone therapy is the use of manmade thyroid hormones to raise abnormally low levels of natural thyroid hormones in the body. Thyroid hormone is usually given in pill form and is often used to treat an underactive thyroid that is secreting little or no thyroid hormones. The most commonly prescribed thyroid hormone replacement is pure synthetic thyroxine .

How To Prevent Scarring From Surgery

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I asked my dermatologist how best to avoid scarring and she said that vitamin E and other scarring ointments are basically worthless. She had me buy over-the-counter, professional grade silicone strips. I chose ;ScarAway;and have been pleased from the results but they do require patience.

She said that the silicone basically prevents a new scar from popping out. But, everyone heals differently. Should I still scar,;there are lasers that help and steroid injections should the scar pop out. So far, I can tell the silicone strips are working.

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What Can I Expect Once I Decide To Proceed With Surgery

Once you have met with the surgeon and decided to proceed with surgery, you will be scheduled for your pre-operative evaluation You should have nothing to eat or drink after midnight on the day before surgery and should leave valuables and jewelry at home.

The surgery usually takes 2-2½ hours, after which time you will slowly wake up in the recovery room. Surgery may be performed through a standard incision in the neck or may be done through a smaller incision with the aid of a video camera . Under special circumstances, thyroid surgery can be performed with the assistance of a robot through a distant incision in either the axilla or the back of the neck. There may be a surgical drain in the incision in your neck and your throat may be sore because of the breathing tube placed during the operation. Once you are fully awake, you will be allowed to have something light to eat and drink. Many patients having thyroid operations, especially after hemithyroidectomy, are able to go home the same day after a period of observation in the hospital. Some patients will be admitted to the hospital overnight and discharged the next morning.

Take It Slow Following Your Surgery

What To Expect After Thyroid Surgery

It is important to understand that while routine, thyroid surgery is a major operation. Give yourself time to recover after having surgery. If you are under duress and worrying about your job or finances, talk to a relative, physician or seek aid. You will need the time to rest and recuperate as well as having some physical therapy after thyroid surgery to help regain flexibility in your shoulders and neck.

While the time it takes to recover after thyroid surgery is different for everybody, rest assured that you should have no trouble returning to all of your normal activities once recovery is complete. As a general rule of thumb, most patients can return to work and mild exercise in two to three weeks unless lymph nodes were involved in the operation. If lymph nodes were also removed during the surgery it can take several weeks longer to fully recover and return to light activities. Heavy labour or contact sports should be avoided for longer in both cases and your physician will be able to guide you in deciding when it is okay to return to such activities.

If you have questions or concerns about thyroid problems see your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a thyroid surgeon.

For more information about thyroid surgery

Read Also: What Does An Enlarged Thyroid Look Like

When To Notify Our Office

You should call our office at 410-328-6187 if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Fever with a temperature higher than 101.5.
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Increase in pain at the incision that is not relieved by pain medication
  • Increased swelling, redness, or drainage from the incision
  • Numbness or tingling of fingers, toes, or around the mouth.
  • Muscle cramps

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.

Read Also: What Is Considered A High Thyroid Level

What To Expect After Surgery

If you are expected to undergo thyroid surgery then what can you expect after the procedure?

We’ll talk more about the potential risks and side effects of the procedure but first I want to focus on the repercussions of removing an endocrine gland from your body.;

Your thyroid gland produces some of the most powerful hormones in your body, these hormones are known as T3 and T4.;

They are produced directly from the thyroid gland which sits in your neck.;

After they are produced they travel in your bloodstream to nearly every cell in your body where they help to increase your energy, manage your metabolism , manage your mood, control your heart rate; and much more.;

I bring this up because it’s important to realize that once you remove your thyroid gland then this system will no longer work in the exact same way as it did in your “natural state”.;

Once you have removed your thyroid gland you still have the requirement for thyroid hormone in your body but it can no longer be produced naturally.;

As a result, Doctors will prescribe a thyroid hormone medication replacement that you will need to take for the rest of your life.;

This process sounds simple, but it can be complex when it comes to finding out the “right dose” for your body.;

The exact type and dose of thyroid medication depend on a number of factors and may require time and titration to figure out.;

Most of the negative side effects that people feel after their procedure; are directly related to thyroid function in their body.;

Why Do People Need Thyroid Surgery

Thyroid gland removal: Procedure, side effects, and recovery

The main reason why you would undergo thyroid surgery is that there is something wrong with your gland that can’t be fixed through other means.;

In most cases, surgery, of any organ or tissue, is considered the last possible resort.;

The best option is to try and fix whatever issue is happening in your body with other less invasive measures before you resort to simply “taking it out”.;

But, even with the best intentions, it’s not always possible and you may ultimately require thyroid surgery.;

But what conditions absolutely require that your thyroid be removed?;

The most common condition that results in the removal of your thyroid gland is thyroid cancer or a high suspicion for cancerous cells in your thyroid gland .

Thyroid surgery is usually considered to be the single best therapy required to treat thyroid cancer.;

But other conditions such as very large thyroid nodules or a very large thyroid gland may also necessitate removal.;

Lastly, conditions that result in excessive thyroid hormone production may also necessitate the removal of your gland.;

Conditions that fit into this category include hyperthyroidism, toxic nodules and Graves’ disease.;

In most cases, your Doctor will not recommend thyroid surgery unless it is absolutely necessary!

But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t read more to learn and understand what is happening in your body.;

You can read more about alternatives below.;

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Side Effects Of No Thyroid

Now your thyroid is gone, you may feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster. One minute you’re laughing and having a great time, the next minute you’re so pissed off you are seeing red â or, maybe today you’re just sad. Yep, here come the tears again. It happens.

It’s hot. It’s cold. You’re in and out of the arctic tundra, all the way to the sweltering rain forest. Your body’s thermostat may seem broken. I experience hot flashes and, well, cold flashes, for lack of a better term⦠all day long.

My hands tingle often and my feet cramp every night, even when my calcium and potassium levels are âperfectâ.

All of these things may not be permanent, but for now it’s the ânew normalâ. You’ll probably hear that phrase a lot while dealing with your post-thyroidectomy symptoms.


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