If there are white gauze dressings covering your wounds, they may be removed 24 hours following surgery. Underneath you will find Steri-Strips, small white pieces of tape. Please leave these alone. They typically fall off within two weeks of surgery. You may gently shower 24 hours after surgery, trying not to remove the Steri-Strips. You may take a bath 14 days after surgery.
Your wounds may be closed with glue instead of Steri-Strips, with or without an outer gauze dressing. If so, follow the instructions above; the glue will peel off within 2 weeks of surgery.
Expect some swelling after surgery which will progressively disappear over 1 – 3 weeks. Minor bruising is commonplace and usually resolves in a week.
Following surgery, there are no absolute dietary restrictions. Your regular diet is fine, but always best to begin with bland food, such as chicken noodle soup, crackers, Gatorade, tea, etc. and gradually work towards a normal, healthy diet.
Please avoid lifting greater than 20 pounds and physically or athletically vigorous activity for two weeks. Also avoid hyperextending the neck for a week. This will give time for the closed incision to comfortably heal. Mild next extension, and regular side to side and downward head movements should be well tolerated. Driving is allowed after 24 to 48 hours and if you are not taking narcotic medication.
You should resume all your home medications except for aspirin and other anticoagulants, which should be discontinued for at least a week following surgery unless other arrangements have been made with your physician.
Depending on the extent of thyroid removal and the underlying thyroid condition, you may require thyroid hormone replacement. However, you’ll be fine without it for the initial several days to a week postoperatively. Your treatment will be determined by your physician at the time of surgery or during your follow-up appointment.
Ice packs on your incisions may be useful during the first 24-48 hours after surgery. Twenty minutes on and twenty minutes off is a good rule of thumb.
Use the prescription pain medication provided at the time of discharge as directed. Be sure to take narcotic pain medication with food so as not to upset your stomach. As soon as possible transition to non-narcotic pain relievers such as Tylenol. If you have no past problems with ulcer disease or gastrointestinal bleeding or allergies to aspirin, you may take Ibuprofen. Do not drive while you are taking a prescription pain medication.
Nausea is common during the post-operative period and may be caused by pain medication. Stopping the pain medication and using Tylenol or ibuprofen will likely help.
Occasionally after thyroid or parathyroid surgery you can develop low blood calcium levels due to temporarily diminished parathyroid gland function. This is called hypocalcemia. Symptoms of hypocalcemia include numbness or tingling around your lips or on your face, or in the hands or feet. Symptoms can also include muscle cramps, spasms, or twitches, especially in the hands, feet, or face. If this occurs, take three Tums (calcium carbonate) tablets, and call our office. We will provide additional instructions to continue the Tums tablets 3 to 4 times a day and prescribe other treatment or tests as needed.
Follow Up Visit
The day after surgery, call our office at (512) 467-7151 to schedule your follow up appointment within 5 – 14 days following discharge from the hospital.
Should you experience a temperature over 101 degrees or have persistent nausea or vomiting or other problems that you think need medical attention, please call us at the office.
You may experience transient sore throat, hoarseness, or mild difficulty swallowing – all of which should resolve with time. Keeping the throat moist with fluids and/or lozenges and voice rest helps.