Thyroidectomy recovery

Thyroidectomy recovery

When can I return to work and normal activity?

What happens to your body after your thyroid is removed?

Is a thyroidectomy major surgery?

Can you lose weight after having your thyroid removed?


How thyroidectomy recovery would be?

Your recovery will depend on the extent and type of surgery you have received. It is common to feel tired in the first few weeks, particularly in the afternoon. You should be back to normal activities by four weeks. Any stitches or wound clips will be removed (usually after ten days) either in the outpatient follow-up appointment. The appropriate arrangement will be explained to you before you leave. Take care when bathing, showering or hair washing, particularly until any wound stitches or clips have been removed. Gently pat dry the area. Until fully healed, avoid using perfumes or aftershaves, scented soaps or creams as these can irritate the area. Any pain or discomfort, bruising or swelling will settle after one to two weeks.

For the first two weeks, sleeping propped-up with pillows will help reduce swelling and alleviate pain. The nursing staff will discuss with you how and when any prescribed pain relief medication should be taken. Follow a healthy diet and avoid alcohol until fully recovered. A diet of softer, easy-to-eat foods may be easier to swallow until the throat feels more comfortable. Avoid or cut down on smoking as it interferes with the body’s ability to heal and also irritates the throat. Staff can provide advice on quitting, aids to help you quit (e.g. nicotine patches) and contacts for support groups.

Following surgery, you may experience:

  • Voice changes, such as, a hoarse voice, difficulty in speaking loudly, voice fatigue, and a change in the tone of your voice. These changes are due to damage to the laryngeal nerves that supply your voice box (larynx) during surgery. This may last a few days or a few weeks but is rarely permanent.
  • You may experience low blood calcium levels due to damage to the parathyroid glands during surgery. Again, this is usually only a temporary problem treated with calcium supplements over a few days. Signs that you may have low calcium are numbness and a tingling feeling in your lips, hands, and the bottom of your feet, a crawly feeling in your skin, muscle cramps and spasms, bad headaches, anxiety, and depression.


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When can I return to work and normal activity?

The neck muscles may feel stiff and sore for a few days. Most patients return to their daily activities in a few days and work, with some limitations, within a week. Strenuous activity and heavy lifting should be avoided for at least a week. During this time, it is helpful to move the neck from side to side and roll the shoulders with gentle stretches to prevent stiffness.

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The following will help your recovery:

  • good posture
  • neck and shoulder exercises/stretches
  • scar massage
  • gradually returning/building up to heavier physical activity

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What happens to your body after your thyroid is removed?

If only part of your thyroid is removed, the remaining portion typically takes over the function of the entire thyroid gland. So you might not need thyroid hormone therapy.

If your entire thyroid is removed, your body can't make thyroid hormone. Without replacement, you'll develop signs and symptoms of underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Therefore, you'll need to take a pill every day that contains the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine (Synthroid, Unithroid, others).

This hormone replacement is identical to the hormone normally made by your thyroid gland and performs all of the same functions. Your doctor will test your blood to know how much thyroid hormone replacement you need.

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Is a thyroidectomy major surgery?

A thyroidectomy is a common but major surgery with serious risks and potential complications. However, the two most common risks are:

  • damage to the recurrent laryngeal nerves (nerves connected to your vocal cords)
  • damage to the parathyroid glands (glands that control the level of calcium in your body)

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Can you lose weight after having your thyroid removed?

The key to weight loss is keeping up with medical treatment and taking steps on your own to keep your weight in control.

Step 1

Take prescription thyroxine, or T4 hormone replacements such as Synthroid and Levothyroxine. You will have to replace these thyroid hormones through prescription drugs for the rest of your life. without hormone replacements, your body enters a state of hypothyroidism after a thyroidectomy. Hypothyroidism slows down the metabolism, causing weight gain.

Step 2

Consider triiodothyronine, or T3, hormone replacements. Triiodothyronine is one of the types of thyroid hormones, but it is not typically replaced with prescription hormones because it is not as prevalent. However, Thyroid-Info explains that a T3 supplement taken in conjunction with prescription hormone replacements can better balance your body and make up for the lack of thyroid, thereby increasing potential weight loss.

Step 3

Reduce the amount of complex carbohydrates in your diet. Examples of complex carbohydrates include potatoes, white bread, pasta and rice. According to Thyroid-Info, hypothyroidism is linked to insulin resistance, making it more difficult for your body to metabolize such foods. Eating too many complex carbohydrates can make you gain weight easily after a thyroidectomy.

Step 4

Eat a diet that consists of lean meats, green leafy vegetables, low-sugar fruits and low-fat dairy products. Foods with a high fat or sugar content will make it more difficult to lose weight, even if you are on hormone replacements.

Step 5

Exercise regularly. If you are new to exercising, try walking as often as you can. Then you can build up to high-intensity cardio activities such as running and kick-boxing, as well as strength-training routines. Losing fat and building muscle will further enhance your metabolism to make up for your lack of thyroid gland.

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10 common questions about Thyroidectomy recovery

1How long does it take to recover from thyroidectomy?
When you go home, you can usually return to your regular activities. Wait at least 10 days to two weeks before doing anything vigorous, such as heavy lifting or strenuous sports. It takes up to a year for the scar from surgery to fade
2What can I expect after a partial thyroidectomy?
For most patients, walking and normal routines can resume the day after the operation, but vigorous activity and heavy lifting are not recommended for two weeks. Depending on their job type, most people will need to take 1-2 weeks off work after thyroid surgery
3What can you eat after thyroidectomy?
Your Diet During Recovery You can eat whatever you like after surgery. Try to eat healthy foods. You may find it hard to swallow at first. If so, it may be easier to drink liquids and eat soft foods such as pudding, Jello, mashed potatoes, apple sauce, or yogurt
4Can you lose weight after having your thyroid removed?
Yes, thyroid removal can impact weight loss. Thyroidectomy (removal of thyroid gland) can disrupt your metabolism due to the decreased level/absence of thyroid hormones leading to weight gain
5Is thyroidectomy major surgery?
A total thyroidectomy is a procedure that removes your entire thyroid gland. ... Total thyroidectomy procedures can take a long time to perform—3 to 4 hours, in most cases. Your surgeon makes a small incision in the front of the neck, and he or she must carefully work around vital structures, such as the vocal nerves
6Do you gain weight after a thyroidectomy?
CONCLUSIONS: Despite the perception of many patients that their thyroidectomy and thyroid hormone replacement or suppressive therapy is responsible for their subsequent weight gain, there were no significant differences in weight gain over time in comparison to a control group of euthyroid patients with thyroid nodules ...
7How do you wash your hair after a thyroidectomy?
You can shower or wash your hair 24 hours after your surgery. Use a mild soap like Ivory or Glycerin and baby shampoo for about 1 week after the surgery. You do not need to keep the tape over the incision dry, but when you finish bathing or showering make sure to pat the incision dry.
8How long does it take for the voice to come back after thyroidectomy?
Although the voice usually improves in the first few weeks after surgery, it can last up to 6 months. If both recurrent laryngeal nerves are damaged, the vocal cords may close and not allow air to pass from the mouth and nose into the lungs
9Do you gain weight after thyroid removal?
Losing weight can be a frustrating process for many people with an underactive thyroid. Whether you have hypothyroidism or no thyroid after surgery or radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment, there's no question that for many, the thyroid affects metabolism and can make weight loss an uphill battle
10Can you eat after thyroidectomy?
There are no restrictions on what you may eat or drink after surgery. Some people experience a sore throat and prefer soft foods for a few days. It is recommended that you avoid heavy, greasy or spicy meals for the first few days. There are no restrictions on normal activities after surgery.

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