If you’ve been told that you need to undergo a thyroidectomy or another type of procedure on your thyroid gland, you’re going to want to do everything in your power to make a full recovery after the operation. Rest is an important part of your recovery after thyroid surgery, but there are also some active steps you’ll need to take to ensure you make a full recovery. We shine a light on those tips in today’s blog on how to best recover after thyroid surgery.
Life After Thyroid Surgery
Even though the procedure is in your throat region, most patients can eat and drink like normal in the evening if their surgery occurred that morning. You may have some soreness and mild discomfort when swallowing, so some patients prefer soft foods and liquids for the first few meals after surgery. Over-the-counter medications like Tylenol are generally all that’s needed for pain, but talk to your surgical team if you’re experiencing more than mild discomfort in the hours and days after your surgery.
One of the most important factors in the first few days after thyroid surgery is how you care for your incision site. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions, but in general, you’ll have a light bandage over the incision site for a day or two after surgery. Again, your specific instructions for caring for your wound will vary depending on the type of sutures used to close the site, but ask your doctor about how to best clean and wash the site. Some doctors may want you to avoid showering or soaking the wound for a specific period of time following surgery. Regardless of your specific instructions, watch for signs of an infection, which include:
- Discolored discharge
- Warmness or heat at the wound site
Some drainage is normal in the first day or two, but if it is yellow or foul-smelling, contact your surgeon. You may also notice some localized numbness or stiffness, or you may have hoarseness in your voice. These are some symptoms that can appear after a thyroid procedure, but they tend to resolve on their own within a couple days. If symptoms persist for longer than 72 hours, or they get worse, reach out to your physician. As for your scar, it should fade and become almost unnoticeable, but it can take up to six months for full healing. You should avoid tanning booths or excessive sun exposure during this time, as that can lead to a more visible scar.
Finally, you need to make sure that you manage your activity levels properly while you’re recovering. Your doctor will provide a specific timeline, but most patients can return to normal daily activities within a few days of their procedure. Most workers can return to their job within seven days, but a longer timeline may be needed if you work a physically demanding job. If you do a lot of lifting or carrying of heavy equipment, you should expect to avoid strenuous work for about two weeks, but it’s best to get approval from your surgeon before doing any laborious activities.
If you follow these tips, we’re confident you’ll have a good chance at making a full and speedy recovery following thyroid surgery. If you have questions on anything, or you want a thyroid consultation with Dr. Koeplin, reach out to his office today at (651) 224-1347.