We get asked so many questions every day about thyroidectomies, so thought we’d jot all our answers down in one, easy-to-find place! If you have a question – we have an answer!
If you happen to have an unanswered question after reading this – let us know!
The thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland, located at the front of your neck, that creates and activates hormones that control different responses throughout the body. This can impact changes in your metabolism, heart rate, energy levels, organ function, and sex hormones.
When the thyroid is dysfunctional, it of course can cause an array of problematic signs and symptoms including, but not limited to;
- Tiredness & Sluggishness
- Weight Gain
- Dryer Hair or Skin
- Sleep More Than Usual
- Weaker Muscles
- Constant Feeling of Cold
- Frequent Muscle Cramps
- Poorer Memory
- More Depressed
- Slower Thinking
- Puffier Eyes
- Difficulty with Math
- Hoarse or Deeper Voice
- Coarse Hair/ Hair Loss/Brittle Muscle/Joint Pain
- Low Sex Drive
- Puffy Hands and Feet
- Unsteady Gait
- Gain Weight Easy
- Outer Third of Eyebrows sparse hair
- Irregular Menstrual Cycles Heavier Menstruation
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
It is important to note that any symptoms are actually a sign of disease manifestation. The symptoms are generally milder at the early changes in disease, and not even detectable with most pathology. This is why we advocate early screening at The Lucy Rose Clinic. If we can pick up the early changes, we can usually reverse and cure it with a Functional Medicine approach.
Approximately 40% of Australian Women have undiagnosed Hypothyroidism
So, what is a thyroidectomy?
Essentially, a thyroidectomy is a major operation where an endocrinologist performs surgical removal of either part or all of your thyroid gland.
What are the risks?
In general, a thyroidectomy or a thyroid lobectomy the risks are low, though in some cases the risks are very serious – invasive, etc.
Why would you have a thyroidectomy?
Your family GP may recommend a thyroidectomy for a variety of reasons, including:
- Uncontrolled hyperthyroidism
An overactive thyroid is where your thyroid gland over-produces thyroxine, a thyroid hormone. Your GP might have already suggested medications to block or control this overproduction, however, break-through thyroxine can still occur, even with increased amounts of the thyroid hormone blocker medication, therefore a thyroidectomy may be an option.
- Suspicious thyroid nodules
Thyroid nodules are abnormal growths of tissue on the thyroid gland. Needle biopsies are performed, and in most cases the nodules are benign, however, if they are identified as cancerous, your GP may suggest a thyroidectomy.
- Enlargement of your goiter
A goiter is an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland, causing it to look like a lump in your neck, just below the Adam’s apple. The main cause of goiter is usually a lack of iodine from dietary sources. You can live with a goiter, although if treatment is not working and it becomes hard to swallow, hard to breathe, painful, or causing an over-active thyroid, you may need to consider thyroid removal.
- A cancerous thyroid
This is the main reason as to why you might need a thyroidectomy. If you have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, partially removing, or fully removing the thyroid is a common treatment option.
How will I feel after a thyroidectomy?
As with many surgeries, there are a million different emotions that you may experience! Some people are more emotionally sensitive than others and will benefit from extra support around them both before and after the procedure.
Physically, the area will be sore and tender for a few weeks as it heals, and your doctor will guide you an how to care for the area correctly.
Regardless of how you think you are going to feel, it is important to be kind to yourself and set up some support systems around you. Connecting with others who have been through the same experience on a Facebook Group, like our private Group Hyper/Hypo, Hashimoto’s & Thyroid Support Group | Facebook is invaluable for support and relief. Meet with a counselor or psychologist for extra guidance and strategies to feel safe and accepting. And remember to tell your close family and friends and also let them help. Having a few home-cooked soups and broths in the fridge for when you get home is a great idea.
What should I eat after a thyroidectomy?
Avoid hard food, spicy and junk food, and acidic foods. Somepeople say eating cool foods like icecream, yogurt, or cool drinks feels good. Other like clear soups like chicken broth or pumpkin soup.
Soft and mashed vegetables are great, slow cooked meat dishes so the meat falls apart, and stewed apples.
After a few weeks, you should be healed enough to started incorporating more foods in the diet.
Can you live without your thyroid?
In short, the answer is yes, although it still comes with a few questions. How does your body regulate thyroid hormones without it?
Can thyroidectomy cause weight gain?
Yes, most people, do experience weight gain. There are many hormones responsible for weight fluctuations, including leptin, insulin, cortisol, and estrogen. Thyroidectomies can cause severe hormonal disruptions, and you may have more hormones out of balance due to this. The Lucy Rose Clinic specialises in testing all these hormones to identify your specific weight triggers. This allows us to modify your diet correctly and expertly, and offer natural medicine that will help guide your body back to better balance. A balanced body naturally losses excess weight with this approach!
Post-thyroid risk factors & management
After a thyroidectomy, your GP will provide you with a synthetic hormone replacement, called levothyroxine, which can mimic normal hormonal functioning. If the entire thyroid is removed, it’s a medication you will need to take for the rest of your life. For people who have had a partial thyroidectomy, they may not need to take the medication as they still have some functioning thyroid tissue left, but this will be monitored with regular blood tests.
One of our thyroid specialist naturopaths Kirsty, shares how she helps patients reduce their post-thyroid risk factors and assist in long term management naturally.
“While thyroidectomies are not ideal, you can still lead a happy healthy life if your body is fully utilising the thyroid substitute – medication – and you are on top of other contributing health factors that affect thyroid functionality. Firstly, making sure that your thyroid medication is the optimal type and dosage for your particular needs is very important but on top of this, it is essential to make sure that your body knows how to process it and trigger the right responses at a cellular level to fully mimic and replace a well-functioning, fully effective thyroid gland.
When I first meet a lot of patients on thyroid medication, regardless if they still have their full thyroid or not, I find many of them struggling with hypothyroid symptoms even though they have been increasing their medication over and over again. This is because the human body is so complex that just assuming increasing medication dosage will automatically take effect without any health issues or biochemical factors limiting its full potency is very unwise. There is a multitude of things that can be going on in someone’s body that significantly limits their ability to convert the medication to the activated form or properly take effect on a cellular level, along with many other issues that can put significant pressure on the whole system, making the requirements to keep functioning well much higher and more complicated.
Secondly – it is very important to identify and rectify the original cause(s) and contributing factors of the thyroid issues and why the thyroidectomy was needed in the first place! Just because you may not have a thyroid anymore does not mean that the inflammatory cascades, hormonal dysregulation, autoimmunity, nutritional deficiencies, or whatever else contributed to the original problem has gone for good – it actually can be affecting other areas of the body or presenting in a different way now. You will know if this is the case because you will be still suffering from similar symptoms.“
Remember – Everybody is different! It is important to identify what is happening specifically in your own body, as what may work for one person may not be the ideal treatment for another.
If you have any concerns about the health of your thyroid or feel like you have exhausted all other avenues, feel free to book a free 15-minute consultation with one of our expert naturopaths.
Or please check out how to make your thyroid and/or medication work better.