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Patient Information

Prior to Surgery

  • You may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), clopidogrel (Plavix), warfarin (Coumadin) and other blood thinners.
  • Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of the surgery.
  • Discuss any possible bleeding disorders or other medical conditions that you may have.
  • Let your doctor know if you have a cold, flu fever, herpes breakout or other illness prior to surgery. This may require that you reschedule your procedure.
  • Do not smoke. This will help you recover quicker.
  • You will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything after midnight the night before the surgery.

Day of the Surgery

  • Take the drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
  • Arrive at the hospital at the given time.

After Surgery

  • You will most likely be able to go home either the same day or spend a night at the hospital.
  • You will have a sore throat and may have some voice changes at first. You can take an over-the-counter medication, such as Tylenol, or your surgeon may give you a prescription for pain medication.
  • Apply an ice pack to the surgery site several times a day during the first 24 hours. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Do not get the incision site wet for the first 24 hours. You may shower the day after surgery.
  • The tape will begin to shrink and curl up in three to four days. If it does not fall off after four days, gently remove it and apply an antibiotic cream or ointment.

Recovery: What to Expect in the Next Few Weeks

Most patients are fully recovered within 10 days. You can return to most activities at that time, but you will need to restrict water-based sports. Swimming is not recommended until after at least a month post-surgery. Since your thyroid gland was removed, you will have to take medication to take the place of thyroid function. Your doctor will prescribe a thyroid replacement hormone that you will have to take the rest of your life. This will be monitored regularly as recommended by your doctor. The dosage may be adjusted to maintain the proper hormone levels.

FAQs for Thyroidectomy

What does the procedure involve?

The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and with an endoscope to direct the surgeon to the gland. Instruments are inserted into a tiny incision — usually no more than one-inch long — and the gland is removed. The procedure takes about two to two-and-a-half hours. The incision is covered with a protective tape.

How many incisions are made?

One tiny incision that is ½ to one inch in length is made at the base of the neck.

How long do I stay in the hospital?

You may be released the same day, but most patients stay overnight for observation.

What is the recovery time?

Most patients are fully recovered 10 days after surgery. You will have some restrictions, such as no swimming for a month. Your physician will also recommend that you always apply sunscreen over the scar after it has healed.