After Thyroid Surgery (Thyroidectomy)

Doctor feeling woman's neck to examine thyroid.

After your surgery, follow your healthcare provider's instructions exactly. Take your medicines or hormone pills every day. And see your healthcare provider for regular checkups. Once your thyroid problems are under control, you can get back to doing the things you like to do.

While you’re healing

  • Don’t let your incision area get wet for a few days after your surgery.

  • Schedule a follow-up visit with the surgeon or your primary care provider to have your incision checked. If you still have staples or stitches (sutures), they may be removed. Your incision will be red and raised at first. It will probably flatten out and fade in about  6 months.

  • You may need to take thyroid hormone pills. These pills replace the hormone that your thyroid used to make. Your healthcare provider will adjust the dosage of this hormone until it’s right for you. Take your thyroid pills on an empty stomach. 

  • Your parathyroid glands may not work normally. If so, you may need to take calcium and vitamin D supplements in the first weeks after surgery.

  • Don’t do strenuous physical activity for a few weeks. This includes swimming or lifting heavy objects.

  • Don’t go back to work until your healthcare provider says it’s OK.

Managing your health

  • If you’ve been given thyroid hormone pills or other medicine, take these exactly as directed to help keep your hormones at the right levels. Always take thyroid hormone pills on an empty stomach. Vitamin D is better absorbed if taken with food. Calcium will interfere with the absorption of your thyroid hormone. S take these medicines at different times of the day.

  • See your healthcare provider for regular blood tests. These tests are to check that your hormone medicine is at the right dose for you.

  • If you have a nodule, you may need follow-up tests. These are to check for changes in its size or for the appearance of additional nodules.

  • If you’ve had treatment for cancer, you will need regular follow-up exams. These are done to check for signs of the cancer returning.

When to call your healthcare provider 

Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the below:

  • Swelling or bleeding at the incision site

  • Fever of 100.4°F ( 38.0°C) or higher, or as advised by your provider

  • Hoarseness

  • A sore throat that lasts longer than 3 weeks

  • Tingling or cramps in your hands, feet, or lips