The function of the thyroid gland is to keep all parts of the body working at the right speed; neither too fast nor too slow. This enables the brain, heart, muscles and other organs to function at a high efficiency. Surgical Associates offers a variety of treatments for thyroid conditions including medications, nonsurgical procedures, and surgery. Thyroid conditions often do not present symptoms until they’ve reached an advanced stage, which means surgery often becomes the only viable treatment.
Some thyroid conditions that require surgery include overactive thyroid glands (hyperthyroidism), overactive parathyroid glands (hyperparathyroidism), enlarged thyroid glands (goiters), and cancerous and benign thyroid nodules (thyroid nodule surgery). Surgical Associates’ surgeons and staff are highly-proficient in all procedures related to these conditions.
At Surgical Associates, we work with you to find the best solution. We consider you a partner in the process of improving your health. No patient is ever treated the same or with a one-size-fits-all mindset. Treatment of your thyroid condition will be tailored specifically to you.
To ensure a successful surgery, the following steps will need to be completed prior to your surgery:
- Physical examination
- Assessment of family history
- Thyroid ultrasound
- Fine needle aspiration biopsy with or without ultrasound guidance (for thyroid nodules)
- Various tests to ensure you are healthy enough for surgery
- Complete list of medications
- 6 to 8 hours of fasting before surgery
- Arrangements for a family member or friend to take you home following surgery
- Discussion with your surgeon of the goals, benefits, and risks of the operation
When surgery is needed for treatment of a thyroid condition, part or all of the thyroid gland will need to be removed. Following some surgeries for thyroid nodules, radioiodine ablation may be needed. This involves taking a pill or liquid dose of radioactive iodine to decrease the amount of thyroid hormone released. Often, removing nodules is a minimally-invasive procedure, with less pain, scarring, and recovery time. Surgery usually takes between one and three hours.
Your care at Surgical Associates extends beyond the operation. The healing process is usually quick, but you will likely need to spend a few hours in the recovery room. Depending on your surgery, you may be sent home, or you may need to stay overnight.
After your surgery:
- Fluid may be collected during surgery by placement of a drain at the wound site.
- Antibiotics may be required if you have a drain, and you will need to care for your incision as directed by your surgeon.
- Calcium levels may be checked to see if the parathyroid glands were affected during surgery.
- Take all medications as directed upon your arrival at home.
- It is normal to experience a sore throat.
- Lozenges or throat spray can ease the discomfort.
- Avoid heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, and driving until these activities are cleared by your surgeon.
- Most patients take one to two weeks off work to recover.
You will also need to see your surgeon for a follow-up visit two weeks after surgery. We want to make sure your wound is healing properly and will remove your stitches or drain if needed. Several weeks following the surgery, you will need a TSH test to determine if you will need to take thyroid hormone pills.
If you experience numbness or tingling in the fingertips or mouth, muscle cramping or spasms, neck swelling, nausea or vomiting, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, or an irregular heartbeat, call Surgical Associates immediately.
Here are some of the most common questions about general surgery. Click on any question to reveal the answer.
Will my insurance cover my surgery?
- Call your insurance company and let them know that you are having surgery, what kind of surgery and the date of your surgery. They will give you a summary of your benefits.
- If your surgery is elective, preauthorization may need to be obtained and Surgical Associates will submit the required information for preauthorization. Surgery will not be scheduled until we know that we have that preauthorization. Whether or not surgery is elective or not, Surgical Associates will contact your insurance to make sure precertification has been obtained.
What will be my arrival time for surgery?
The timing of your procedure is not figured out until the day before. You will receive instructions from your surgeon’s office.
What kind of prep will I need before my procedure?
This depends on the type of procedure you are having. Some procedures will require a bowel prep, other procedures require just nothing to eat or drink after midnight, and other procedures require just showering with an antibacterial soap the night before and the morning of surgery. Your surgeon’s office will give you these instructions when your surgery is scheduled.
Will I need to stay in the hospital overnight or go home the same day?
This depends on the type of surgery you have. Your surgeon will advise you on what to expect in this regard.
What about my medications? Will I need to stop any of them before surgery?
Bring your medications to your appointment with you so we can confirm what medications you are taking and advise you on how to take each medication before and after surgery. Blood thinners, for example, may have to be stopped for a period of time prior to surgery.
Will I need a driver?
Yes. Most procedures we do require an anesthetic of some type. However, if you do not have anesthetic, it would not be a bad idea to have someone come with you anyway. Some people get tense during their procedure and become shaky afterwards, even after a minor procedure. We would rather you get home safely instead of taking any chances.
How long will I be off of work?
The amount of time off of work depends on the type of surgery that you have. Your surgeon and appropriate office staff will guide you on the expected time off.
Will I have any restrictions after surgery?
- Depends on the type of surgery you have. You may have lifting restrictions for a short period of time, or eating restrictions, or shower/bathing restrictions.
- You will not be allowed to drive if you are taking any narcotics or medications that would inhibit driving safely.
Will I see my surgeon after surgery?
Yes. You will have a postop appointment 1, 2 or 3 weeks after surgery so we can check your incisions and make sure you are healing well and as expected.
What if I have forms that need to be completed for my employer or disability company?
Surgical Associates has specific staff who will take care of filling out those forms. Bring the forms with you to your appointment. Make sure you have filled out your portion of the forms and signed wherever you are required to before handing them in. Also, make sure your name and date of birth on those forms and instructions on where to send the forms when they are completed by the office staff.
When can I drive after surgery?
After surgery you will be sore and have some limited mobility. Once you are completely off of any narcotic pain medications and once you feel that you can quickly slam on the brake if you needed to, you can drive. Your surgeon will advise you on what to expect for the timing of this.