Your thyroid is a small gland at the front of your neck. It regulates certain hormones that are responsible for essential bodily functions like heart rate and metabolism. However, about 20 million Americans have thyroid disease — and their thyroids don’t work as they should.
Thyroid disease includes conditions like hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, cancer, and enlarged thyroid (goiter). Many people find that conservative care effectively manages their thyroid condition, but in some cases, thyroid removal surgery (thyroidectomy) may be necessary.
About 150,000 thyroidectomies are done each year in the United States. If you’ve been told you need thyroid surgery, you might be wondering what recovery and life after surgery look like.
Rachel Alt, MD, Brian Prebil, DO, and our team at the Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery, in Peoria, Arizona, are here to help. We specialize in minimally invasive thyroid surgery, and we have extensive experience in treating nodules, goiters, tumors, and other thyroid conditions.
Recovering from thyroidectomy
There are a few types of thyroid surgery. Depending on your condition, our surgeons may recommend removing part or all of your thyroid. Thyroidectomy is performed using general anesthesia, so you’re unaware during the procedure.
We begin by making a small incision in your neck to access your thyroid, and surgery may take 1-2 hours. Once the surgeons remove your thyroid tissue, they close the incision in your neck, and you’re moved to a recovery room.
Thyroidectomy is generally considered safe, but you may have some side effects in the days after your procedure. The most common side effects include neck pain, hoarseness, and sore throat. Many people stay in the hospital for one night, and then they can go home.
Our team gives you instructions for recovery at home. In general, you can expect to rest for a few days after surgery, and you should avoid strenuous activity for at least one week.
Adjusting to life after thyroidectomy
Under our guidance, you can return to your usual daily activities within a few weeks after thyroidectomy. We maintain follow-up appointments as needed as you heal. You may have a scar on your neck from surgery, but many people find that it fades within one year.
Thyroidectomy is generally effective in treating goiters, cancer, and other thyroid diseases. Long-term care after thyroidectomy depends on how much of your thyroid was removed. If only part of your thyroid was removed, you may not need to take thyroid medication after surgery.
However, if you had a total thyroidectomy, your body no longer makes those essential thyroid hormones. You will need to take synthetic thyroid hormone medication every day for the rest of your life.
If you have thyroid disease or other complications, thyroidectomy could be a good option for you. Contact the Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery at 623-227-2581 or send us a message online now.