As an endocrine surgeon, one of the most common questions we get is “What will my life be like after surgery?” We’ve already answered that question for patients undergoing pancreatic and spleen surgery, but today, we’re going to focus on patients undergoing thyroid surgery. Below, we take a look at some of the short-term and long-term adjustments you’ll need to make after thyroid surgery.
Short-Term Adjustments After Thyroid Surgery
There are some things that may happen after thyroid surgery that you’ll need watch for so that trouble doesn’t start. Here are some things that may happen in the first few days after thyroid surgery, and how you can adjust for them.
- Low Blood Calcium – Surgical trauma to the thyroid gland can lead to lower levels of calcium in the blood. This can manifest into symptoms of numbness or a tingling sensation in your lips, hands and feet. You can help prevent this by taking a calcium supplement, but ask your surgeon before jumping into a calcium regimen.
- Incision Site Care – You’ll need to be prepared to care for your surgical site in the days after surgery. Keep the incision site clean and perform regular changes of your bandages. If you notice a lot of swelling or discharge coming from the site, contact your surgeon.
- Work/School – You’ll need to take at least a week or two off of school or work, but it depends on how physical your job demands are. Limit your physical activity for the first couple of weeks, and avoid lifting heavy objects as it can strain your neck area.
Long-Term Adjustments After Thyroid Surgery
Here’s what you may have to get used to in the long term if you have undergone thyroid surgery.
- Medications – Depending on your situation, you may need to take hormone supplements on a regular basis for the rest of your life. This isn’t a huge adjustment, but it’s an important habit to continue if you want the correct levels of hormones in your body.
- Exercise – Once you are recovered from surgery, you’ll be able to return to physical activity and exercise. For many people whose hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism was causing hormone issues, they may actually find it much easier to exercise after surgery once their hormone levels are under control. An irregular performing thyroid can leave a person feeling lethargic, so you’ll likely find yourself with more energy after the operation.
- Diet – Unlike other endocrine procedures like gallbladder or pancreas removal, you won’t need to adjust your diet after thyroid surgery. We recommend following a healthy diet, especially in the first few weeks after surgery when your body needs vital nutrients and vitamins to aid in recovery, but you won’t need to eliminate certain foods or large meals from your diet in the long-term after thyroid surgery.
As you can see, the lifestyle modifications after thyroid surgery aren’t all that difficult, so you shouldn’t worry about what might change after an operation. People often wish they would have had their thyroid issues taken care of sooner, so don’t delay. Reach out to Dr. Koeplin’s office today.