A partial or total thyroidectomy is a common surgical procedure that involves the partial or full removal of the thyroid gland. It is used to treat thyroid cancer, Grave’s disease, thyroid cysts, an overactive thyroid, or goiter that is so severe it affects your daily life. A thyroidectomy will require an overnight hospital stay and a general anesthetic. As the procedure involves the partial or full removal of the thyroid gland, you may need to take medication to ensure normal thyroid function.
Preparations before thyroidectomy surgery
It is important to remain calm and relaxed before your surgery, and that you give consent for the procedure. You will also need to attend a pre-operative appointment with your private thyroid surgeon who will advise you on when to stop eating, drinking, and taking medication before the surgery. As the procedure will require a general anesthetic, you will need to have an empty stomach. The incision will usually be made in the crease of the neck, with the thyroid removed surgically.
The recovery process
A thyroidectomy is an inpatient surgery so you should expect to stay at least a night in hospital, or longer if there are complications. Increasingly some thyroid operations can be done on a day case basis and your surgeon will advise you accordingly – you may experience some temporary throat pain, which can be treated with medication, as well as neck pain, a weak voice, or some problems with swallowing. As you recover, it should become easier to swallow and any neck pain should also decrease. You may need to consider thyroid hormone replacement depending on how much of the thyroid gland needs to be removed and your body’s response after surgery. Your body’s response is usually assessed with a thyroid function test 6-8 weeks after surgery. It’s important that your body has enough of the thyroid hormone to control your metabolism and this might require blood tests to determine.
Getting back to normal after a thyroidectomy
It will take a few weeks to be able to get back to your normal daily activities, and it is crucial that you rest and take it easy for a month after the procedure. Some people may get back to their usual activity before a month. Refrain from any tasks which might strain your neck, including heavy lifting or intense exercise to allow proper healing. You will also be expected to attend a follow-up appointment with your surgical team to make sure the surgery was successful and check your thyroid function six to eight weeks after you had the operation.