Post-op expectations for thyroidectomy surgery:

  • Numbness of the skin under the chin or above the incision is normal and should go away in a few weeks
  • You may feel a lump or pressure in your throat when swallowing for a few days.
  • You may have temporary throat discomfort or difficulty swallowing. These symptoms will gradually improve over the course of several weeks.
  • Your incision may feel itchy while it heals. Avoid rubbing or scratching if possible.
  • You may feel neck stiffness, tightness, a pulling feeling, mild aching chest discomfort, headache, ear pain or congestion.
  • Your voice may be hoarse or weak. Pitch or tone may change. You may have difficulty singing. This usually goes back to normal over 6 weeks to 6 months.
  • Most patients are able to return to a full-time work schedule in 1-2 weeks, but varies according to your job.
  • Mild swelling at the incision site will go away in 4-6 weeks. The pink line will slowly fade to white during the next 6-12 months.
  • After surgery, you may notice a change in your mood, emotional ups and downs, depression, irritability, fatigue or weakness. These changes will get better as time passes.
  • Being active is normally well tolerated within reason.

Instructions:

  • Do NOT drive until you can turn your neck side to side, which may take 1-2 weeks.
  • Do NOT drive while you are taking pain medicines.
  • Drink and eat foods that can be swallowed easily, e.g. juice, soup, gelatin, applesauce, scrambled eggs or mashed potatoes.
  • You may be able to return to your usual diet in a couple of days.
  • Please leave the Steri-strips in place on your incision and allow them to fall off on their own. If they have not fallen off in 10-14 days, you may remove them yourself.
  • You may shower 48 hours after surgery but please do not swim or soak in a tub for at least 2 weeks.
  • After showering, just pat your incision dry. If it is draining clear fluid, you can cover it with a dry dressing (such as gauze).
  • Do NOT scrub with soap or washcloth for the first 10 days.
  • Some people prefer to sleep with an extra pillow for the first few days after the surgery, keeping swelling around your incision to a minimum.
  • Use a sunscreen (SPF#30 or higher) or wear a scarf for protection if in the sun for the first 6 months to a year as the sun can darken your scar.
  • You may begin to use a hypoallergenic moisturizing cream (no vitamin E, Mederma, or other “scar” creams) along the incision after 2 weeks.
  • Take 2 over the counter calcium supplements three times daily, a total daily dose of 1500-2000 mg of calcium. You may take over-the-counter Citracal, TUMS, Viactiv, or any supplement that has 500-600 mg elemental calcium per pill. They are all equivalent.
  • Take your thyroid hormone (e.g. Synthroid, Levoxyl, Cytomel) as prescribed.
  • Calcium and thyroid hormone should be taken 1-2 hours apart.
  • Thyroid medication should be taken on an empty stomach.

When to call the office:

  • Persistent fever over 101 degrees F (39 C)
  • Chills
  • Persistent cough or shortness of breath
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Pain not relieved by medications
  • Numbness or tingling in your fingers, hands, or mouth
  • Redness around wound that is worsening or getting bigger
  • Bleeding
  • Purulent drainage (pus) of incision
  • Inability to eat or drink liquids
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing, CALL 911