Phonosurgery: Your Care at Home after Thyroplasty
What is a Thyroplasty?
Thyroplasty is done to move your paralyzed
vocal cord towards the non-paralyzed one so
that the vocal cords can touch better; this
allows for improved voice, swallow function
and a stronger ability to cough. The
paralyzed vocal cord is moved over with a
permanent implant. The key part of the
operation is done when you are sleepy and
relaxed, but still able to respond when the
doctor asks you questions to test your voice.
A local numbing medicine will be given
where the incision is made so you do not
feel pain. You may feel some pressure or
discomfort. You will be given medicine
through your IV to make you relaxed. Some
people remember parts of the operation.
What is the preparation like right before
Before surgery is started, your doctor(s) will
look at your voice box by passing a small
flexible camera through your nose to double
check which vocal cord is paralyzed. A mark
on your neck will be made with a pen to
verify the side that will be operated on.
How long does it take?
It takes 1.5-2 hours. You will stay overnight
in the hospital.
What to expect after surgery:
ξ Sore throat and pain at the incision
ξ You will have an incision on the
front of your neck with a dressing in
ξ You may have a small drainage tube
under the dressing; this will be
removed the day after surgery before
you go home.
ξ Some blood-tinged drainage is
normal for the first 2-3 days.
Do I have to rest my voice after the
Yes. We usually suggest 72 hours of not
talking right after the procedure to prevent
bleeding and to let any minor swelling of the
vocal folds decrease. That way, when you
start talking after the 72 hour period, your
vocal cords will have recovered somewhat.
Will my voice be better right after the
voice rest period?
No. The recovery of your voice happens
with time. Your voice will likely be worse
before it gets better so having some patience
is important. If your voice is not improving
then you should let us know.
How important is it to work with the
voice therapist (Speech-Language
It is very important! It is critical to learn
skills from them and listen to their expert
advice on how to restore your voice. If you
can combine what they teach you, you will
be less frustrated and have a faster recovery
and a better outcome. Meeting with them
before and after the procedure will assure
your best outcome.
Home Care and Restrictions
ξ No strenuous activity or contact
sports for at least 2 weeks. No lifting
more than 25 pounds or straining for
ξ For 3 days after surgery, keep your
head elevated at least 30⁰ on 2-3
pillows when sleeping or resting. Do
not lay flat in bed.
ξ Follow voice rest restrictions as
instructed by your surgeon or speech
ξ Avoid extremes of loudness and
ξ Do not whisper; this can promote
abnormal vocal behaviors which
makes getting your voice back more
ξ Avoid coughing and throat clearing.
ξ Drink plenty of fluids, even if you
are not able to eat much solid food.
Advance your diet slowly from
liquids to soft foods.
ξ It may be better to avoid spicy foods
for 2-3 days after surgery.
ξ Eat slowly to avoid choking or
ξ Be sure to take your reflux medicine
ξ Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be
taken as needed for pain. Do not
take anti-inflammatory medicine
such as Ibuprofen or Aleve for 2 days
ξ Use the pain medicine you are
perscribed, if needed.
ξ You may shower and get your
incision wet 48 hours after surgery.
Do not soak your incision or
submerge your neck under water
until your incision is completely
ξ Clean around your incision with mild
soap and water, rinse and pat dry.
ξ You can leave your incision open to
ξ If you have stitches, they will be
removed at your first post op visit
ξ Check your incision daily for any
signs of infection.
o Increased swelling
o Worsening pain
o Warmth at the incision site
o Pus-like drainage
o Fever over 100.5, checked 2
readings 4 hours apart
When do I call the doctor?
ξ If you have trouble breathing go
to the nearest Emergency
Department or call 911.
ξ If you have pain not relieved with
ξ If you cough up bright red blood or
ξ If you have any sign of infection at
the incision site.
What about follow-up visits?
You will see a Speech-Language Pathologist
about one week after surgery and have a
member of the ENT clinic check your neck.
A full follow up with your doctor and a
Speech-Language Pathologist will take place
about 6 weeks after the operation.
If you have any questions or problems once
you are home, please call:
ENT Clinic, Monday - Friday, from 8:00
AM to 5:00 PM at (608) 263-6190.
After hours, weekends or holidays, the clinic
number will give you the paging operator.
Ask for the ENT doctor on call. Leave your
name and phone number with the area code.
The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, call
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©10/2016. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5315.