If you have been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism where the thyroid is overproducing thyroid hormone, you may need to undergo surgery to have the entire thyroid or one lobe removed. Many patients with hyperthyroidism experience symptoms such as nervousness, rapid heartbeat, fatigue, light menstrual periods, weight loss, and hair loss. If the thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone, symptoms can include slow thinking, long menstrual periods, decreased energy, and muscle pain. Your doctor can determine whether you are a candidate for thyroid surgery after a series of blood tests and a health evaluation.
How Thyroid Surgery is Performed
Thyroid surgery is performed under general anesthesia and involves making two to three long incisions across the front of the neck. Your surgeon will remove the entire gland or just one lobe, depending on the symptoms and whether there is a risk of cancer. In some cases, only nodules in one lobe are problematic so the entire thyroid gland does not need to be removed. Once the gland has been removed, the area is stitched back together and the skin and tissues heal fairly quickly after that.
The Types of Thyroid Surgery Procedures Include:
– Total thyroidectomy – the entire gland and lymph nodes around the gland are removed. Additional treatment amy include thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and radioactive iodine.
– Thyroid lobectomy – removal of only one lobe where thyroid nodules are located. If cancer cells are present in this lobe, it may be necessary to remove the entire thyroid gland.
– Subtotal (near total) thyroidectomy – removal of one complete lobe, the narrow band of tissue that connects the two lobes, or just a part of the other lobe. This is a common option for patients who have hyperthyroidism because of Graves’ disease.
Life After Thyroid Surgery
Most patients undergoing a thyroidectomy spend one night at the hospital. Those undergoing a lobectomy may be able to return home the same day. Monitoring calcium levels after thyroid surgery is important since these procedures can affect functioning of the parathyroid glands. You may need to schedule a followup visit one week after surgery.
Once thyroid hormone production is regulated, patients may enjoy a better quality of life and a healthier lifestyle overall. Your surgeon can make recommendations on any dietary changes or lifestyle habits that will support your recovery.
Learn more about thyroid surgery by scheduling your appointment at our Los Angeles or Glendale office today.