Thyroid surgery is a common and safe procedure. It is normal for patients undergoing any medical procedure to have questions or concerns about recovery and life after surgery. You can expect to receive specific instructions from your physician following your procedure, but answers to common questions regarding recovery of thyroid surgery include:
- What is recovery from thyroid surgery like?
Typically speaking, recovery from thyroid surgery is relatively rapid and pain is normally manageable. With the partial removal of the thyroid gland you can expect to be discharged the same day and with a total thyroidectomy you can plan to stay overnight in the hospital. Pain is generally described as minimal to moderate lasting four to five days post-procedure. The chief complaints from patients post-surgery are fatigue, sore throat and soreness, all of which generally subside within a week or two.
- What restrictions will I have during recovery?
There are minimal restrictions following surgery. You will be advised to gradually increase activity, as you feel well and able. You should expect to regain full strength within 7 days. Patients are permitted to shower the following day post-procedure and leave their home for any activities they feel comfortable doing. You will be able to talk and eat after surgery although patients who experience a sore throat may opt to stick with a soft food diet for a few days. It is recommended but not required to avoid heavy, greasy or spicy meals for the first few days.
- How should I care for the incision site?
Following the surgery steri-strips are placed over the incision site. These small strips of white tape help to protect the incision and should remain in place for 7 to 10 days. If they have not fallen off on their own, you may remove them after a week.
- When can I return to work?
On the average, patients are out of work for one week post thyroid surgery. Keep in mind this is an average and some patients may choose to return to work at a reduced schedule within a few days and some will take up to two weeks to feel well enough to return to a normal schedule.
- What can I do to speed up the recovery process?
Follow your doctor’s orders and listen to your body. It is normal to fatigue more easily after a surgical procedure. Walking is a low impact exercise to keep you active and speed up recovery, while gentle neck exercises and stretches can help to prevent neck stiffness or soreness.
The best advice for a speedy and safe recovery is to follow specific instructions given to you by your physician or nurse post-procedure and keep any follow up appointments to ensure your recovery is on track. Be sure to ask for clarification on any instructions that are unclear to you prior to leaving the hospital. To learn more about thyroid and endocrine surgery and the board certified physicians of Premier Surgical Associates in Knoxville visit our website.