If you’re having thyroid surgery, it’s important to know how to best prepare for your procedure and what to expect while you recover. This includes any tests you’ll need before surgery, as well as what to avoid after surgery to help ensure its success.
How should I prepare for thyroid surgery?
After your thyroidectomy or thyroid lobectomy is scheduled, you’ll have a pre-operative evaluation with members of your thyroid surgery care team. That evaluation may include blood tests, an electrocardiogram (EKG), X-rays or other imaging studies.
We’ll give you specific instructions on when to stop eating, drinking and taking medications prior to surgery. It’s very important that you follow these guidelines for your own safety, and you’ll need to have an empty stomach before any surgical procedure that requires anesthesia. If you don’t follow the instructions, your thyroid surgery might be cancelled. Please contact us with any specific questions.
What is recovery like after thyroid surgery?
After your thyroidectomy or thyroid lobectomy, you may have a temporary sore throat, neck pain, difficulty swallowing or a weak voice.
Your diet will be restricted for the evening of your surgery, but in most cases, it can return to normal the next day.
Before you leave the hospital, we’ll schedule a follow-up appointment, give instructions for your at-home recovery and go over any prescribed medications.
Most people are ready to return home within one day of surgery, but take off about two weeks from work to recover. You’ll need to refrain from heavy lifting or other tasks that can strain your neck for up to three weeks after your surgery. Soaking or scrubbing the site of your incision is also discouraged for at least one week to allow it time to properly heal. Showering is generally allowed after about one day.
Pain at the site of your incision will improve after a few days but may continue for a week or so. If you notice sudden swelling in your neck, which could signify an infection, contact our office.
Due to disturbance of the parathyroid glands, which regulate calcium balance, your calcium level may drop after surgery. If it drops, you may notice numbness and tingling of your fingers or around your mouth. We’ll monitor your calcium levels through blood tests, and give you instructions about taking calcium replacements if needed.
What are the side effects of thyroid surgery?
After a total thyroidectomy, you will take lifelong thyroid hormone replacements. Because your entire thyroid gland is removed, it will no longer supply you with the hormone you need to control your body’s metabolic processes. You might also have to take supplements after thyroidectomy to balance your calcium levels.
After a thyroid lobectomy, you’ll need to have your thyroid hormone levels checked and will be prescribed a thyroid hormone replacement, if needed.
In the weeks after your thyroid surgery, you may have neck pain, soreness of your vocal chords or a weak voice. These symptoms are usually temporary.
Will I need to follow a special diet after thyroid surgery?
For most people, a special diet after a thyroidectomy or thyroid lobectomy isn’t necessary. You’ll likely be able to eat and drink normally the morning after your surgery, but you may prefer softer foods at first. We’ll let you know if and for how long you need to restrict your eating and drinking.
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