What to expect after thyroid surgery
After your thyroidectomy or thyroid lobectomy, you may have a temporary sore throat, neck pain, difficulty swallowing, or a weak voice.
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 will 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 experience temporary symptoms such as neck pain, soreness of your vocal cords, or a weak voice.
Recovery after thyroid surgery
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.
Your diet will be restricted for the evening of your surgery, but in most cases, it can return to normal the next 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 your thyroid surgeon.
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.
Life after Thyroid Surgery
Recovering from a thyroidectomy varies depending on the amount of your thyroid removed and the technique used.
People who have a total thyroidectomy and most people who have a subtotal thyroidectomy will need to take thyroid replacement drugs (thyroxine) for the rest of their lives.
Without this thyroid hormone replacement, people experience tiredness, depression, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, unexplained or excessive weight gain, dry skin, coarse and/or itchy skin, dry hair, hair loss, feeling cold especially in the feet and hands, constipation, muscle cramps, joint pains, increased menstrual flow, low sex drive, and more frequent periods.
The hormone replacement tablets are small and easy to take. Your doctor will check your hormone levels on a regular basis and adjust the dose of thyroxine until it is right for you.
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