After Thyroid Surgery

You should be able to get back to your normal life in a few weeks. Your doctor will monitor your recovery to be sure you’re healing correctly and that your thyroid problem is under control.

Doctor removig bandage from woman's neck

While you’re healing

Your surgeon may ask you not to get your incision area wet for a few days after your surgery. Avoid strenuous physical activity for a few weeks, and don’t return to work until your doctor says it’s OK. Within a week or so, you’ll visit the surgeon or another health care provider to have your incision checked. If you still have clips or sutures, they may be removed then. Your incision will be red and raised at first, but it will probably flatten out and fade in about 6 months. After your surgery, you may need to take thyroid hormone pills. These pills replace the hormone that your thyroid used to make. Your doctor will adjust the dosage of this hormone until it’s right for you. It 's also possible that your parathyroid glands don't work properly, and you may be asked to take calcium and/or vitamin D supplements the first week or 2 after surgery.

Back to feeling good

After you’re feeling better, the right care can keep you feeling good. If you’ve been given thyroid hormone or other medications, take your pills regularly to help keep your thyroid hormone at the right levels and your body running smoothly. See your doctor as directed for regular blood tests. These tests confirm that your hormone pills or medications are still at a dose that’s right for you. If you’ve had treatment for cancer, regular exams help catch it early if it returns. No matter what the cause, thyroid problems don’t have to keep you from feeling good and doing what you like.

When to call your doctor

Contact your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Swelling at the incision site

  • Bleeding at the incision site

  • Warmth, redness, or tenderness at the incision site (signs of infection)

  • Fever above 101°F (38.3°C) for 24 hours to 48 hours despite taking medications like acetaminophen to decrease it 

  • A sore throat that continues beyond 3 weeks

  • Tingling or cramps in the hands, feet, or lips (signs of a problem with the parathyroid glands)