Postoperative Care After Thyroidectomy

  1. Swallowing and diet: You may feel some discomfort with swallowing for several weeks after surgery which usually resolves with time. Eat soft foods in the beginning then progress to a normal diet.
  2. Pain medication: Moderate pain and discomfort is expected for the first postoperative week. You will be given Tylenol with codeine as a pain medication.
  3. Thyroid medication: If a total thyroidectomy has been performed (your entire thyroid was removed) then you will be placed on thyroid replacement medication. We will determine if this is the correct level by checking your TSH level (blood test) at six-week intervals.
  4. Calcium medication: Frequently the calcium level can drop after a total thyroidectomy. Calcium replacement with Calcium Carbonate pills (tums) or Calcium Carbonate with vitamin D (OsCal) is recommended at about 6 pill per day. You do not require a prescription for this medication. You may be given Rocaltrol which is a strong vitamin D preparation.
  5. Radioactive Iodine: If you have the diagnosis of thyroid cancer you will sometimes be given an appointment with a Radiation Oncologist who will administer I131 which is a radioactive iodine that eliminates any microscopic thyroid cancer cells that may be in the body. Not all people are given radioactive iodine and this is decided on a case by case basis.
  6. Wound care: Your suture will be removed eight days after surgery. Make an appointment in my office for the following week after surgery. For several weeks there may be some redness to the wound and some swelling at the top half of the neck. This is normal and will usually resolve. You can replace your dressing if you feel more comfortable with it covered. Otherwise it is perfectly acceptable to leave the steri-strip covering open to air.
  7. Activity: You may resume your normal activity about 4-5 days after surgery. Normal bathing can be resumed 2 days after surgery. As you feel comfortable you can resume you normal routine. The key determinant is listening to your own body and not going beyond your limits.
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