Thyroid surgery is a fairly common procedure, but it’s perfectly normal for patients to have questions about life after the surgery. Most of their questions focus on their rehabilitation and how they can speed up the recovery process. Below, we answer five common questions people have about their recovery from thyroid surgery.
What can I expect from the recovery phase?
One of the positive things about thyroid surgery is that in most instances, recovery is relatively quick and pain can usually be well managed. If you have part of your thyroid removed, you can typically be discharged the same day, while total thyroidectomies tend to require a one night stay in the recovery ward. Pain is usually described as mild to moderate, and lasts for an average of 4-5 days. The most common complaints after surgery are feelings of fatigue and a sore throat.
Will I have any restrictions while I recover?
Another benefit of thyroid surgery is that there typically aren’t many restrictions after the operation. The surgeon will want you to ease back into activity, but for the most part you can do activities that are comfortable to you within a day after the operation. You’ll be able to talk and eat after surgery, although some people find it easier to stick to soft foods for the first couple of days.
How can I best care for the incision site?
When it comes to caring for the incision site, follow your surgeon’s specific instructions, but in general, the surgical strips that are placed over the incision site should remain in place for 7-10 days post op. After a week, if they have not fallen off on their own, you can carefully remove them yourself. Contact your doctor if you notice any signs of an infection, and heed their instructions for getting the site wet in the shower.
When can I get back to work?
The average patient who undergoes a thyroidectomy misses one week of work, but it greatly depends on the type of work you perform. Office workers may be able to return after a couple days, while manual laborers may need to wait a couple weeks before they are healthy enough to handle the rigors of their job. Talk to your surgeon about your job duties and when you might be able to return to work.
How can I speed up my recovery?
The best way to speed up your recovery from thyroid surgery is to listen to your doctor’s instructions. They’ll be able to take a look at your specific case and make the best recommendations for you. Another way to help your recovery along is to listen to your body. If certain actions are making you stiff, sore or draining your energy, take it easy and give your body more time to recover. Don’t push yourself too hard too soon, otherwise you may end up prolonging your recovery.
For more answers to questions you might have about thyroid surgery and the recovery process, reach out to Dr. Koeplin’s office today.