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What to expect after the operation

Get Well Soon

Helping you make a speedy recovery after a thyroidectomy

What to expect after the operation

Scar

You will have one scar, 3-4 inches across, along your collar line. This will run horizontally along the natural lines of the skin in your neck. After a few weeks it should be healing well, and after 12 months or so it will hardly be visible.

Stitches/clips

With thyroid surgery, many treatment centres now use skin clips on the outside of the neck instead of stitches. You may have your clips removed 2-3 days after your operation, before you leave hospital, or you may have them removed at around 5-6 days. In this case, they will be removed be your GP or practice nurse. A small drain will be attached to your wound to prevent fluid building up. This will be removed after 2-3 days.

Dressings

You do not need to keep the wound covered with a dressing. Exposure to the air will help the wound to heal more quickly. You can wash as normal after the clips have been removed, but take care to pat the wound dry gently.

Discomfort

After the operation, your neck will be quite sore, and you will be given medication to take home to ease the pain. You may find it painful to swallow for a short period after the operation, so a softer diet may be required. Some patients also experience a tingling sensation in their hands, fingers, and around their lips or their nose. This is because the calcium levels in your blood can be affected by a thyroidectomy. If you feel any tingling, be sure to tell the staff who are looking after you (or your GP, if it happens after you return home). You may need a short course of tablets to restore the calcium levels in your blood. In rare cases, low calcium levels may be permanent. A thyroid operation may temporarily affect the volume of your voice. This may be a factor to consider if your job places high demands on your speech, for example, if you are a teacher, or if you work in a call centre. It is also worth remembering that your speech may become fatigued as it is used during the day.

Tiredness and feeling emotional

After any operation, your body is using a lot of energy to heal itself, so you will feel more tired than normal. With a thyroid operation, there is another reason for tiredness. The thyroid produces hormones which control the speed at which your body works. If you’ve had more than half of your thyroid removed, you will need to take thyroxine tablets for the rest of your life - this is to replace the hormone which your thyroid used to produce. You will have blood tests before you leave hospital to make sure that it is safe for you to go home. You will have regular check-ups once a year to make sure that you have the right level of thyroxine.

Painkillers

Painkillers may well cause constipation, so it’s important to get plenty of fibre in your diet while you are recovering. Fresh fruit and vegetables will help to keep your bowels moving regularly.

 

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