Some patients may need to take a prescription of thyroid hormone supplement after surgery. Thyroid hormone levels are usually monitored after the surgery and annually by your Primary Care Physician and/or Endocrinologist. Some patients may also need to take a prescribed synthetic Vitamin D and calcium supplement after surgery. Calcium levels may be monitored after surgery.
The nerve that controls much of the voicebox (larynx) runs adjacent to the thyroid gland. The nerve may not work well after surgery and this may be temporary or permanent as discussed during your pre-op office visit. This may lead to a hoarse, breathy voice and sometimes trouble swallowing. Most mild hoarseness after surgery is temporary and due to swelling of the vocal cords from the breathing tube (endotracheal tube) placed by the anesthesiologist during the procedure. If a total thyroidectomy is performed, on extremely rare occasions both the left and right recurrent laryngeal nerves do not work and the patient may have trouble breathing. This may require a breathing tube to be placed through or below the voicebox which is called a tracheostomy tube.
- Keep the incision dry for 7 to 10 days while the steristrips are in place. After the steristrips are removed at the office on your follow-up appointment, gently wash the incision with soap and water 2 to 3 times a day as needed. After each washing, apply a thin film of an antibacterial ointment (e.g. Polysporin).
- Avoid any activity that pulls across the incision such as shaving around the incision for at least 2 weeks (the rest of the face may be shaved). Most sutures are dissolvable. Any staples or sutures that need to be removed will be done on your follow-up appointment 7 to 10 days post surgery.
- Some patients are discharged with a thin drain tube and oval collecting reservoir called a grenade. Please empty the grenade and record the amount of fluid whenever the grenade looks half full or at least 2 times a day. Discard the fluid down a sink or toilet, do not save it. Bring the daily recorded amounts to your follow-up appointment.
- Elevate the head of your bed 30 to 45 degrees for the first 3 to 4 days to decrease swelling. The skin above the incision may look swollen after lying down for a few hours.
- Avoid any activity that raises your blood pressure for one week (eg. heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, etc.).
- You may eat a regular diet after surgery.
- Pain can be mild to moderate for the first 24 to 48 hours. The sooner you can reduce your narcotic medication use, the more rapid your recovery. As your pain lessens, try using extra-strength acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead of your narcotic medication to reduce constipation.
- Any numbness or tingling in the hands or lips may be an indication of low calcium levels post surgery. If this occurs, please inform the office immediately or after hours go to the nearest Emergency Department for a blood test of your calcium levels.
- The final pathology report may not be available until 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. This may take longer if the pathology specimen has been sent by the Hospital for a second opinion by another pathologist.