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FAQs For Thyroid & Parathyroid Surgery

What is an endocrine surgeon?

Endocrine surgeons play a key role in the diagnosis, treatment and management of endocrine conditions. They perform surgeries on specific endocrine glands, such as the thyroid or parathyroid glands when they are diseased. Endocrine surgeons have usually completed additional training in order to become specialists in this field.


How long will the operation take?

Thyroid and parathyroid operations generally take between 1 – 3 hours. The time taken is dependent on a number of factors including:

– Reason for the surgery

– How large the thyroid gland is

– If a cancer operation is being performed

– Patient factors eg. If the patient is unable to extend the neck, access to the thyroid and parathyroid may be more challenging


Will I need a general anaesthetic?

A general anaesthetic means that drugs are given to create an unconscious state and a breathing tube is placed in the windpipe (trachea) to control the breathing.

Dr Yeung always uses general anaesthesia when performing thyroid and parathyroid surgeries.


How long will my incision be and where will it be placed?

For open thyroid or parathyroid surgery, an incision is preferentially placed in a skin crease. It is usually 4 – 6cm in length but this is again dependent on the size of the thyroid and the patient’s neck.


How will my scar heal?

Your wound will be closed with dissolving stitches under the skin (these will not need to be removed).

You may notice that your neck is slightly numb and the wound may be thickened and slightly swollen for around 3 months. After 3 months, scars are often slightly red and visible but will gradually fade over time. It may take 12 months before the scar fully heals to a fine white line in the neck.


How long will I be in hospital?

1 – 2 nights.


Can I eat and talk after surgery?


Minor voice changes after surgery are common and usually settle within days but may persist for a few weeks. Permanent, major change to the voice (hoarseness) may occur due to damage to the nerves to the voice box but this complication is rare (<1%).


How long will I need off work?

For most people, around 2 weeks. Although the surgery is not very painful, patients may feel the side effects of having surgery for 1 – 2 weeks. These symptoms include feeling very tired, fatigued (a bit like jet lag) and they made be foggy headed. This is why the 2 weeks is recommended.

In this condition, patients should not drive or be responsible for young children or babies.