Thyroid surgery, depending on its extent which is unique for every case, may take from 30 minutes for a simple biopsy to several hours for total thyroidectomy and neck lymph node dissection as necessary. Surgery is always performed tailored to the patient's specific needs and the preoperative diagnostic findings. Patients who have a thyroid lobectomy (only one side of the thyroid removed) will frequently go home on the same day of surgery, but patients may need to stay one or two nights after surgery at the hospital for routine post surgical observation and recovery if they have undergone a total thyroidectomy. You can expect to have a sore throat when swallowing after surgery which generally resolves fully within 1-3 days after surgery. The amount of pain is generally mild to moderate and you will be able to talk and swallow and walk around in the evening of surgery. We encourage early mobilization after surgery to minimize postoperative complications and particularly since thyroid surgery is not debilitating and recovery from it is generally fast. After discharge from the hospital we will continue to be available to you directly at all times until you return to our office for your postoperative first visit usually one week after surgery. Most of the time there are no sutures to remove, and if there is a superficial skin suture, it will be removed at that time. By that time, you can expect to return to full activities including resumption of athletic and outdoor activities and return to work.
Thyroid surgery in most cases is quite successful to cure the disease both in benign and malignant cases of thyroid tumors. In some cases of thyroid cancer, after surgery, you may need to take radioiodine treatment for further improvement of cure and prevention of recurrence. This treatment is given under the supervision of your endocrinologist. After a total thyroidectomy you will need to take a thyroid hormone in the form of a tablet to replace your body's need for that vital hormone. Patients generally do well after thyroid surgery on the replacement medication, rapidly stabilizing the amount of the medication needed.