After Surgery and Postoperative Care
The Recovery Period and Discharge
Upon check-in, your surgeon will take the cell number for the accompanying family member so that we can contact your family after surgery and review the intraoperative findings. Patients will be brought to a recovery unit while they emerge from anesthesia. Recovery time within the recovery unit ranges between 15 minutes and one hour depending on how you feel.
After surgery, you will be brought to the post-operative recovery unit. The endotracheal breathing tube placed to protect your airway during surgery will leave you with a mild to moderate sore throat. This will last a day or two it is best treated with some warm coffee or tea.
Upon discharge, we will transfer you down to our phase 2 unit where you will meet your family member. You will be provided with a variety of information related to postoperative wound care, diet, and follow up. This website was developed so that patients and their family members may find information related to these issues.
We will provide you with medication to control your pain although in most cases, the pain is mild. When you’re discharged home, we recommend that most patients remain on extra-strength Tylenol regularly. While we will provide you with a prescription for narcotic pain medication, we strongly recommend that you limit the use of narcotics. Typically, they cause nausea, bloating, and constipation.
We prefer that unless directed, you refrain from medication that will thin your blood and raise the risk of bleeding or bruising.
Thyroid Hormone Replacement and Calcium Supplement
If you undergo a partial thyroidectomy, you will not require hormone replacement. However, if you undergo a total thyroidectomy you will require thyroid hormone replacement. Your body stores enough hormone to provide normal physiology for one week. However, typically, we will discharge you with a prescription for thyroid hormone replacement.
If you’ve had a total thyroidectomy, there is a small risk of developing hypocalcemia (low calcium levels). During surgery, we draw your parathyroid hormone levels which are a reliable indicator of the risk of developing postoperative hypocalcemia. If your levels are low, you will be discharged with a prescription for oral calcium tablets. If your calcium is low, you may develop tingling around the lips and mouth and occasional tingling in the fingertips. If you experience this, we will instruct you to take calcium; Tums chewable are an excellent source of calcium. Take 4 Tums and contact the office.
What to Expect from the Wound?
In most cases, your wound will be closed with Dermabond, a surgical glue that provides for a waterproof seal. This means you can shower without covering the wound. Surgical glue is covered with surgical tape. The tape will fall off over the course of 2 to 3 weeks. The glue underneath the tape of the grade as the wound heals. Generally speaking, no wound care is required.
While initially, the wound will be flat and only mildly tender, it’s common that on postoperative day two and three, the wound will become more tender and slightly swollen.
Infection is quite rare. However, if it does occur, it typically will manifest on day three or four with redness, exquisite tenderness, and swelling. Below are several photographs demonstrating a healthy wound and an infected wound.
Leading in a collection of blood, known as a hematoma, are also quite rare. Typically, this will manifest a swelling and tenderness with occasional bruising.
If you have concerns regarding the wound, you should contact a member of our team.
What Can I Eat?
You have no restrictions. You can eat a regular diet.
Postoperative Follow Up
Scheduling a Follow-up Appointment
You can schedule a follow appointment in person, or through telemedicine. We are encouraging most patients with uncomplicated courses to see us through telemedicine visits. During the Covid era, and we are doing our best to reduce your exposure and risk of infection. If you elect to have an in-person postoperative visit, you can contact our office and we will schedule a visit. If you would like a telemedicine postoperative visit, please email ENTtelemedicine@mountsinai.org, request an appointment through MyChart, or call your physician’s office and speak to one of our staff members who can assist you.
When Will We Have Your Pathology Results?
Final pathology results are typically complete within 5 to 7 days. We will review your pathology results during the postoperative follow-up visit. If I receive them earlier, I will contact you.