You can use these resources to answer your questions and prepare for your visit to the Massachusetts General Hospital Division of Gastrointestinal & Oncologic Surgery.

Below are what patients should expect when recovering from hemi-thyroidectomy surgery:


Please reference the following guidelines for activity following surgery:

  • Please plan to be on bed rest the day of surgery
  • Minimize talking and chewing
  • When in bed, use a few extra pillows to elevate your head—otherwise, sit up in a comfortable chair
  • Refrain from strenuous exercise for at least one to two weeks from the day of your operation
  • The day after surgery, you do not need to be on bed rest; light activity is fine
  • Most patients are able to return to a full-time work schedule within one to two weeks
  • Do not drive a car until you are able to comfortably turn your neck

There are no dietary restrictions following hemi-thyroidectomy surgery.

Incision Care

Please reference the following guidelines for incision care following surgery:

  • If you have glue over your incision, do not rub it off—this will fall off on its own over time
  • If you have steri-strips (small pieces of tape) over the incision, do not remove these as they will fall off on their own
  • You may take a shower 24-48 hours after surgery
  • If a bandage is in place over the steri-strips, please remove the outer dressing before your first shower—you do not need to replace it
  • Sutures are buried and will dissolve on their own
  • Mild swelling at the incision site is normal and should improve in four to six weeks following surgery; the pink line will slowly fade to white during the six to 12 months following surgery
  • Use a sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) or keep the scar covered from the sun for the first six months to a year, as the sun can darken your scar—you may start sunscreen four weeks after surgery
  • Four to six weeks after surgery, you can also use a scar ointment on your incision, if you wish
Common Problems

Following surgery, you may experience:

  • A hoarse or weak voice, changes in your pitch or tone and difficulty singing. These symptoms usually fade over six weeks to six months
  • A sore throat and/or a sensation of a lump with swallowing. This is very common after surgery and will improve with time
  • Numbness of the skin under the chin or above the incision is also common
Hormones and Medications

Please resume your pre-hospital medications following surgery.

For pain medication, in general, patients undergoing thyroid surgery do not require narcotic pain medication. Tylenol, Advil, Motrin and Ibuprofen can be taken starting the evening after surgery.

Most patients with half of the thyroid gland in place do not require any additional thyroid supplementation; however, some patients do. We recommend having your thyroid levels checked approximately six to eight weeks after removal of half of the thyroid gland to be sure the remaining thyroid is keeping up with the whole body. If it is not, a thyroid supplement is recommended. This can be prescribed by your endocrinologist or primary care doctor.

Please call your surgeon if you have:

  • Increased redness or swelling in the area of the incision
  • Trouble swallowing or breathing
  • Foul-smelling drainage from your incision
  • A fever of 101.5 or greater
  • Severe nausea or vomiting that does not go away
  • Any urgent questions or concerns

To Reach Your Surgeon, Please Call