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What's it like: To have your thyroid removed

Thyroid removal helps treat cancer and overactive glands.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: March 23, 2013 at 12:44 am •  Published: March 24, 2013

What are the risk factors?

With any surgery, there's a risk of bleeding and infection. For some thyroid patients, they will bleed after surgery, and a surgeon will have to go back inside to stop the bleeding.

There's a risk that you'll experience damage to the nerves in your vocal cords. You might have problems singing and could experience a hoarse voice or coughing. Because cancer can grow beyond the thyroid and damage these nerves, this is more common among cancer patients.

Around the time of your surgery, you might suffer from an imbalance in thyroid hormone levels.

Also, your body could release too much thyroid hormone.

It's important to discuss risks with your doctor and ask any questions you might have.

What's the recovery time?

If you have a desk job, you should be able to return to work within a week. If you have a job that requires heavy lifting, your recovery time will be longer. You won't be able to lift anything for about six weeks.

You might be able to return to a light exercise routine within about a week, but you shouldn't return to a strenuous workout involving weight lifting until about six weeks.

What's the follow-up?

After surgery, your doctor will want to periodically check on you to ensure you're healing properly.

Also, most patients must take thyroid hormone pills if their entire thyroid gland was removed. You and your doctor will have to work together to determine the amount of medicine you'll take. It varies from person to person.

Source: Dr. John Muchmore, an endocrinologist at Integris Baptist Medical Center; The National Institutes of Health; the Mayo Clinic; Cleveland Clinic


by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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