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Recovery from a thyroidectomy?
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Questions in the Thyroid forum are answered by Mark Lupo, MD. Topics covered include Goiter, Graves Disease, Hyperthyroid, Parathyroid/Calcium Problems, Thyroid Cancer, Thyroid Nodules/Cysts, Thyroiditis, Thyroid & Pregnancy, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), Thyroid Tests, and Thyroid Surgery.

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Recovery from a thyroidectomy?

I am going to need a total thyroidectomy.  My thyroid is functioning properly, but I have a very large multinodular goiter that keeps growing, on both sides of my neck!  My question is, what can I expect after surgery.  I want to know everything.  How bad is the pain, how long before I can eat, how long in the hospital, how long is recovery time, and what about this synthroid?  Does it make you gain weight, lose weight, eat all the time?  Please give me details.

Thanks, Very Nervous Saun
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These are a lot of questions -- if your doctor & surgeon should be able to address them all.  The recovery varies from person to person.  Weight should not change if thyroid meds are properly monitored.
9 Comments
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I just had my thyroid removed a about 10 days ago. My thyroid was also very large with large nodules below. Right after surgery my vocal cords became very swollen and I had trouble breathing and swallowing. As I understood it this is uncommon but can happen. The surgeon thought that removing the large thyroid placed a lot of stress on the vocal cords. I was on a liquid diet for 4 days and in the hospital for 3 1/2. I got very dizzy from the medication which I started 3 days after surgery. I still am not feeling normal but I hope it will get better. Everyone told me I'd be back at work in one week. I think it depends on each person but I have been surprised by the slow recovery. I did not have much pain though and hardly needed any pain medication.
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Hi i had my thyroid removed 5 weeks ago.My doctors did not realise how big my thyroid gland was until surgery and as a result i had complications where i could not breath properly because my windpipe was weakened also my calcium levels dropped very low and i have had difficulty with swallowing liquids and to top it off i have damage to my vocal chords which i am hoping is not perm .But if i had not had it done things could have been a lot worse ! I have always had an underactive thyroid so im used to medication and I am back to work on monday ! anyone who is due to have this operation im sure you will be fine !
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Boy I wish I would have had my surg wherever the rest of these folks did. I had my thyriod removed jan 06 and it was the worst pain I had ever gone through and I gave birth natrally to my first child and a c-section with my second was home 36 hours after 2nd makin supper. my thyroid surg took over 3 hours they sent me home the next day and i felt as if 14 irishmen had danced on my chest the night before to this day I have trouble with my scar wich is 4-5  inches it is very tender and aches alot. with the reserch I have done All I can say is keep your thyroid as long as possible.as long as u have it u have options when its gone its gone for good and so are your options i am now hypo, and regretting every minute! good luck to all with any form of this demon disease.
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Avatar_n_tn
It's been 2.5 months since my surgery, and though my speaking voice has returned about 80%, my singing voice has not.  This has been a source of frustration, since part of my job is leading people to sing.

I experienced nausea for the first two weeks and dizziness for the first two months.  The doctor said it was most likely anesthesia.  The anesthesiologist said that doctors blame everything on them.

The drain tube and pouch was quite uncomfortable.  Tape the tube so it doesn't gouge into you every time you move.

Make sure you aggressively get your hormone dose at the right level.  Mine was way too low, and because of it had heart arrhythmia, 240 bpm for 45 minutes.  The hormone dosage has been increased twice, and is now 3 times what I started out with.  It only took them 2.5 months to get it right.

I was overly optimistic in my recovery.  Thank God my boss is very understanding and let me take the afternoons off for naps when my hormone dosage was too low.
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Hi. I am having my thyroid out on Tuesday. I feel better after reading everyone's experiences. It's scary. My question is will I be okay being home alone after the surgery. It's just me & my 12 year old son. Should I arrange for someone to pop in for a few days to check on us. Will I be ok to cook for him & stuff? How long before I will be able to drive him around? He has a band concert on Thursday. Think I'll be able to go? More worried about coordinating our day to day stuff after the surgery than the surgery itself. Any suggestions? Happy Easter!
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I had tsh level of .006.  The other tests have not come back yet.  Ultrasound scheduled for Tuesday.  Most of my symptoms, however, are hypo.  Was particularly interested in Lake Lover's comments on Hashitoxicosis with symptoms of both hyper and hypo.  My husband has seen both symptom lists and agrees that I have more of the hypo.  What do you think?
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I had my entire thyroid removed along with a large tumour.  I can't complain about the surgery at all.  It was a 3 hour surgery.  I also had parathyroid damage and was on IV calcium. I have to say that their was really no pain, no drainage tube and other than not having energy, I felt fine.  I was eating sandwiches the next day.  I welcomed the surgery and I am very glad that I had it.  No regrets here and no pain!
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I just had mine out 1wk 1 day ago- The day of I was not bad heavily medicated-- My mom and grandmother stayed in the hospital with me and the facility I was at was awesome. the first evening my arm with the IV swelled up I tried walking and ended up throwing up all over the place (supriseingly it made me feel so much better) I ate slushies the first day and gram crackers- (After that I ate what I craved). My calicum levels stayed really low through the first night and that caused some of the bloating (from what I can haziley remember) Have someone make sure that your drain tube cords are taped it is really uncomfortable other wise. I did really good until day 3 although I had to go get calicum pannels done 3 times. The things that I was not expecting is the pre op scrub caused my skin to feel like it was 100 degrees and the stuff driped behind my ear and caused my skin to peel off.(which was not as bad as it sounds with a little vit e) the last two strange things is I did not know that the pain meds cause you to get "backed up" and I was feeling really awful as a result so if you have a sensitive digestive tract make sure that you talk about that with your doc. Now that I am adjusting to meds my boyfriend is asking me if I am going to be crazy for the rest of my life... Also I was suprised how torn up the inside of my mouth feels from the breathing tube. Take your time and my doc did say that it is normal to feel like ****... this is a surgery that affects every system in your body-- I hope it helps and no I am still not back 100% (but I also have just some down w. a sinus infection which is not helping things)
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Mark Lupo, M.D.Blank
Thyroid & Endocrine Center of Florida
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