The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck in front of your windpipe. Its job is to produce hormones that regulate your body’s metabolism and temperature. The thyroid can be affected by disease, which sometimes requires surgery to treat. Below we review everything you need to know about thyroid surgery, also known as a thyroidectomy.
Types of Thyroidectomy
There are three main types of thyroid surgery. Which one you undergo depends on how your thyroid is affected.
- A total or near-total thyroidectomy involves removing all or most of the thyroid. This type of thyroidectomy is usually recommended in the case of large thyroid cancers, large goiters and Graves’ disease.
- A hemithyroidectomy or thyroid lobectomy involves removing one of the two lobes of the thyroid gland. This surgery may be performed in the case of a thyroid nodule located on just one side of the gland.
- An isthmusectomy is the removal of the isthmus, which is the bridge of tissue that connects the two lobes. This surgery is performed when a small tumor is located within the isthmus.
Preparing for a Thyroidectomy
When your thyroidectomy is scheduled, your doctor will give you a list of instructions so you can prepare. This list may include:
- Quitting smoking and drinking in the weeks leading up to surgery.
- Stopping aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) a week before the procedure.
- Avoiding eating and drinking after midnight before your surgery.
- Arranging a ride to and from the hospital.
- Packing an overnight bag.
- Wearing loose-fitting clothes and no jewelry.
- Arriving at least two hours early for the procedure.
Recovering from a Thyroidectomy
It’s common to experience fatigue, sore throat, neck soreness/stiffness and voice hoarseness for a few days to a few weeks.
After surgery, be sure to avoid:
- Scrubbing your incision site.
- Eating heavy, greasy or spicy foods for a few days.
- Swimming or bathing for at least a week.
- Working for one to two weeks.
- Lifting anything heavy for at least two weeks.
- Driving if you have any neck stiffness or are taking pain medications.
Instead, you should:
- Take medications as prescribed.
- Monitor your incision site to ensure proper healing.
- Check blood calcium and vitamin D levels.
- Check thyroid-stimulating hormone levels.
- Apply sunscreen as well as vitamin E or cocoa butter from Central Avenue Pharmacy to your incision site.
- Contact your doctor if you have any concerns.
For more information about thyroid surgery or to schedule an appointment with a thyroid expert, call Albany ENT & Allergy Services today.