Home Care after Thyroidectomy
What to Expect
ξ You will have an incision at the base
of your neck, covered with a gauze
ξ You may have a drainage tube. The
drainage may look blood-tinged to
yellowish straw-colored. If you have
a drainage tube it is usually removed
the next day. You may notice
drainage from the drain site for the
next day or two.
ξ You may have some temporary
hoarseness or weak voice.
ξ You may have a feeling of a lump in
ξ You may have some pain at your
incision or when you swallow. You
can take your pain medicine 30
minutes before eating to help reduce
the pain. Use them as prescribed
ξ You may shower and wash around
the incision area with soap and water
24 hours after surgery or the
drainage tube is removed.
ξ Do not soak your neck under water
until the incision is fully healed.
ξ If you have stitches that need to be
removed, this will be done at your
first follow up clinic visit.
ξ If you have white surgical strips
(“steri-strips”) in place, leave them
in place until you come back for
your first follow up clinic visit.
ξ You should take about 1 week off
ξ Avoid strenuous exercise such as
jogging, aerobics, swimming, or
lifting over 10-20 pounds for 1 week.
ξ Keep your head raised while
sleeping by using 2-3 pillows for 1
Other Important Information
These four delicate glands are attached to
the thyroid. The parathyroid glands control
calcium levels. When these glands don’t
work, calcium levels are lowered.
Sometimes, the parathyroid glands will not
work as a result of the surgery. Patients may
need calcium supplements on a temporary
basis. Rarely, calcium and vitamin D may
be needed on a permanent basis.
Thyroid Replacement Medicine:
If you have had your entire thyroid gland
removed, you will need to be on thyroid
replacement medicine for the rest of your
life. Your surgeon will prescribe your first
dose. Future prescriptions will come from
your primary care doctor or thyroid
When to Call the Doctor
If you have trouble breathing, go to the
nearest Emergency Room or call 911.
Call the doctor if you notice:
▪ Coughing when you swallow liquids or
▪ Signs and symptoms of infection
- Fever over 100.5 θ F by mouth for 24
- Swelling, tenderness, warmth at the
- Pus-like drainage
▪ Signs and symptoms of low blood
- Numbness or tingling around your
lips or in your fingertips or toes.
- Facial paralysis
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, nights and weekends, this will
give you the paging operator. Ask for the
ENT doctor on call. Give the operator 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 © 1/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5735