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What Can I Expect After Surgery?


Thyroid Surgery

How Long Will I Be In The Hospital?

It depends on the extent of surgery and how your blood calcium level responds. Most patients go home on the same day. After total thyroidectomy, an overnight stay is all that is required and you are able to return home the day after the operation.


Discharge instructions:

• Liquid diet for dinner.
• Lozenges and throat spray will be provided if you experience sore throat. Liquid pain medicine will be provided.
• Dressing on your neck will be removed in the morning.
• You will have an IV to give you fluids until the next day.
• Regular food the following morning.
• Most people can go home the afternoon following surgery.


How can I take care of my incision?

After the dressing is removed, you will see the tapes that cover the incision. Keep these in place until your follow-up visit. You may shower and wash your hair the day after surgery, but try to keep the neck area as dry as possible. The stitches will be removed a week and half after surgery. If you notice any redness or drainage from the incision, contact your surgeon. After stitches are removed, use sunscreen (SPF) of 30 to improve the appearance of the scar, or keep the scar covered the whole year. The scar may become raised or red, but will fade into a less noticeable thin line. 

How will I feel after surgery?

Some people may be tired and a bit sore for a few days. You may experience pain from your incision as well as from muscle soreness in your upper back and shoulders. You will be given liquid pain medication in the hospital and a prescription for pain medication at home. Throat lozenges and throat spray may be used for sore throat. You may feel a lump in your throat when you swallow for about a week following surgery. Calcium levels may drop after surgery if you have had a thyroidectomy. You may also experience numbing and tingling of your fingers or around your mouth. You will be given instructions for taking calcium replacement if needed. If you notice a sudden swelling in your neck along your incision, call your surgeon. The swelling may be a result of hematoma (bleeding) or a seroma (collection of body fluid).

Parathyroid Surgery

Same day surgery 

If you are discharged on the day of surgery you will have plastic dressing over your incision. You may shower on the night of surgery, but keep the dressing as dry as possible. Two days after surgery, remove the plastic dressing and gauze. There will be tapes (Steri-strips) underneath. Leave these in place. Your diet may consist of liquids and soft foods, depending upon which feels better to you, since your throat will be sore. 

How can I take care of my incision? 

After the dressing is removed, you will notice that it is covered with tapes (Steri-strips). These will stay on for about a week. Leave the Steri-strips in place. You may shower. Try to keep the neck area as dry as possible and pat dry after showering. The stitches will be removed in the office about a week and a half after surgery. Infection is extremely rare. If you notice any redness or drainage from the incision, contact your surgeon. After the stitches are removed, the most important thing you can do to improve the appearance of your scar is to protect it with sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 for an entire year. During the year your scar may become raised or red, but will almost always fade into a thin line which will be less noticeable.

How will I feel after surgery? 

Everyone is different. You will most likely be a bit sore for a few days. You may have pain not only from your incision, but also from muscle soreness in your upper back and shoulders. This is from the positioning in the operating room during the surgery. You will have liquid pain medicine in the hospital and a prescription for pain pills to take at home. 

You may have a sore throat. This is a result of the placement of anesthesia tubes during surgery. Throat lozenges and spray usually help. Your neck may be slightly swollen as well. You may feel like you have a lump in your throat when you swallow. This will improve after a few days but may continue for a week or so. If you notice sudden neck swelling, contact your surgeon’s office. Your calcium level may drop after surgery. If you experience numbness or tingling around your mouth or in your fingertips (within 24-48 hours generally), take calcium supplements (about 1200 mg) every two hours until the symptoms resolve. Once the symptoms have resolved, discontinue the calcium supplement. Should they reoccur, begin taking the calcium supplement again. If you have any questions, please contact your surgeon.

Neck Dissection

After surgery 

The evening after surgery you may have a liquid diet for dinner. You may have a sore throat. You will be provided lozenges and/or throat spray to help relieve this. You will also be given liquid pain medicine. You will have a dressing on your neck which will be removed in the morning. You will have one to two drains which may be removed before you are discharged. You will have an intravenous line to give you fluids until the next day. You will have routine blood tests. You will be offered regular food the next morning. Most people are ready to go home by early afternoon on the following day. 

How can I take care of my incision? 

After the dressing is removed, you will notice that the incision is covered with tapes (Steri-strips). These should stay in place until your follow-up visit. You may shower and wash your hair the day after surgery. Try to keep the neck area as dry as possible and pat dry after showering. The stitches will be removed in the office about a week and a half after surgery. Infection is extremely rare. If you notice any redness or drainage from the incision, contact your surgeon. After the stitches are removed, the most important thing you can do to improve the appearance of your scar is to protect it with sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or keep it covered from the sun for an entire year. During the year, your scar may become raised or red, but will almost always fade into a thin line which will be less noticeable. 

How will I feel after surgery?

Everyone is different. You will most likely be tired and a bit sore for a few days. You may have pain not only from your incision, but also from muscle soreness in your upper back and shoulders. This is from the positioning in the operating room during the surgery. You will have liquid pain medicine in the hospital and a prescription for pain pills at home. You may have a sore throat. This is a result of the placement of anesthesia tubes during surgery. Throat lozenges and spray usually help. Your neck may be slightly swollen as well. You may feel like you have a lump in your throat when you swallow. This will improve after a few days, but may continue for a week or so. If you notice sudden swelling in your neck along your incision, contact your surgeon’s office. This may be due to hematoma (bleeding) or a seroma (body fluid collection). Your calcium level may drop after surgery especially if you have also had a thyroidectomy. This is related to disturbance of the parathyroid gland, which regulates calcium balance. This will be monitored through blood tests. You may notice numbness and tingling of your fingers or around your mouth. You will have instructions about taking calcium replacement if needed.

Adrenal Surgery

 

How Long Will I Be In The Hospital? 

You will stay in the recovery room and be monitored closely as you recover from anesthesia. You will receive ice chips to start and then be given a clear liquid diet such as Jell-o or tea. You will progress to regular food. Pain medicine will be given by a nurse as directed. Throat lozenges and spray can be used should you experience sore throat. Patients who have had laparoscopic adrenalectomy are usually ready to go home after breakfast. Patients who have had an open adrenalectomy may stay 3-5 nights. 

Discharge instructions 

• You may resume your regular diet.
• Resume use of medications taken prior to surgery.
• You will be given a prescription for pain medication. Take as directed.
• You may resume normal activity. Do not lift more than twenty pounds. Walking is encouraged to reduce abdominal discomfort and assist in normal bowel movements.
• Keep the incision dry while showering.
• Most patients take 1-2 weeks to recover from the laparoscopic surgery and 5-6 weeks from an open adrenalectomy.

Tulane University, Department of Surgery, 1430 Tulane Ave. SL-22 New Orleans, LA 70112 504-988-5128 surgery@tulane.edu