Thyroid/Parathyroid Surgery Post-op

  • Care in the first 72 hours following surgery:   Standing and walking is desirable, reducing risks of DVT and respiratory complications.  Maintaining elevation of the upper body (30 degree angle is optimal) minimizes pain, swelling and bruising.  An ice pack used at the surgical site as (i.e., 15-30 minutes per hour) is also recommended.
  • After the first 72 hours, light activity and work may be resumed.  During the first 10 days following surgery, strenuous activity and exertion must be avoided, and the head and neck should always remain above the gravity level of the heart.  Activities may thereafter be gradually advanced as tolerated
  • Do NOT use aspirin, ibuprofen or similar non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications including Pepto-Bismol® and Alka-Seltzer® in the first week following surgery unless recommended by your doctor.
  • You may use the narcotic pain medication issued by your surgeon at the time of surgery ONLY in the doses recommended.  You may transition to plain Tylenol®, but do not use Tylenol and the narcotic at the same time unless discussed with your doctor.  Adults with healthy livers should not exceed 4000mg of acetaminophen daily; inform your doctor if you suffer from liver disease.
  • Mild to moderate bruising and swelling are expected at the operative site.  You should not have severe swelling or bruising or a sudden increase in pain and swelling postoperatively (contact physician).
  • Stridor (noisy inspirational breathing) or shortness of breath are always abnormal, and require physician contact if mild or a 911 call if severe.
  • Symptoms of low blood calcium (hypocalcemia) include numbness and tingling around the mouth, on the face and in the extremities.  More severe symptoms can include muscle spasms and cramping, particularly in the forearm and foreleg, and difficulty breathing.  If you notice symptoms of low blood calcium, chew and swallow 4 TUMS® tablets (500mg each) and follow with a glass of orange juice, Gatorade® or water (as available, in that order), and immediately call your doctor.  If symptoms are severe, call 911 after following the above instructions.
  • Your surgeon will want to see you for a postoperative appointment.  He may ask you to have specific laboratory studies (blood work) drawn postoperatively to check on hormone or calcium levels.
  • Your wound is closed with dissolvable sutures which are buried under the skin surface.  Sutures will not require removal.  The skin is sealed with sterile tissue glue.  If a surgical drain was used, the site must be kept dry.  The day following surgery or drain removal, showering is permitted, but do NOT soak in a tub for 14 days following your operation.  

REMEMBER TO ALWAYS CALL 911 IN A POTENTIALLY LIFE THREATENING EMERGENCY!  A RIDE WITH THE PARAMEDICS IS A SMALL PRICE TO AVOID A CATASTROPHE.