My Tips for Recovering from a Thyroidectomy

What to Expect After a Thyroidectomy

Welcome to the first installment of Thyroid Thursday. As promised, I will be sharing a post once a week during the month of September about thyroid health.

Today I thought I would offer some tips I gathered from my own thyroidectomy in June 2013. These are mere suggestions that worked for me and helped me get back on my feet, but you should consult your doctor regarding your own treatment.

1. Once your steri strips are removed, make sure to use sunscreen on your scar or keep it covered in the sun. In general it takes scars one full year to heal, so to avoid any permanent scaring as a result of sun exposure it’s best to use sunscreen. I was vigilant after my surgery about sun exposure. I probably kept the steri strips on longer than I should have and even then I covered my neck with a scarf, but it made me feel better about being outside after my surgery. Once I finally did remove the steri strips, I made sure always to have sunscreen on my neck and scar. I like Neutorgena’s Age Shield (face), which has helioplex and is SPF 70. It isn’t greasy and provides plenty of protection even in the water.

2. Dry shampoo is your friend. For all my lovely long-haired thyroid warriors, washing and drying your hair can be a pain after surgery…literally! I found it difficult to maneuver my head in a way that didn’t put stress on my neck, and when I did wash my hair, it was too much to dry and flat iron it. Using a good dry shampoo can help you stretch the days between washings until your neck mobility improves.

3. Make sure to stretch. My surgeon recommended I start stretching my neck soon after surgery. At first I found it uncomfortable and it felt like the incision was being pulled. I started moving my neck up and down and side to side a couple of times a day and gradually increased the frequency once the incision began to heal. I also started doing yoga as soon as I was able to and that helped my neck and body heal. *You should consult your doctor/surgeon with regard to any exercise after surgery and when to begin neck stretches.

4. Scar creams can help your incision fade. I have to say, my scar is virtually undetectable these days (thanks to my wonderful surgeon!). I tried using scar creams but found they irritated the skin around my neck. If you are going to try a cream, make sure you read the directions and test it on your wrist first. Vitamin E can also help the healing process.

5. Invest in straws. Apologies if this seems like a no-brainer or completely ridiculous, but I found that straws came in handy immediately after my surgery. I couldn’t tilt my head back enough to even swallow my Synthroid, so it was essential that every drink had a straw.

For more information on what to expect after surgery, visit the Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association’s website.

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3 comments

  1. Using dry shampoo is a really good idea. This is something that I have been worried about because looking professional is really important to me. Do you have any tips for what kinds of brands to buy? I’ll be going to the store before I have surgery so that I am already prepared. Thank you for the applicable advice!

    1. Wishing you all the best with your surgery, Brooke! I wouldn’t spend a lot on dry shampoo. Almost every brand has one–so just grab the one that’s most cost effective. I was able to wash my hair pretty soon after surgery with the Steri Strips covering the incision, but my hair was so long at the time that it was a pain (no pun intended). Let me know if you have any questions I can answer before or after your surgery!

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