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A thyroidectomy is an operation to remove all, or part, of the thyroid gland. If all of your thyroid gland is removed, it's called a total thyroidectomy. If only part of it is removed, it's called a partial thyroidectomy, a sub-total thyroidectomy or a lobectomy. The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland at the base of the neck responsible for producing a hormone that regulates numerous metabolic processes.


A thyroidectomy is done to treat conditions affecting the thyroid such as hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland), a goiter, thyroid nodules or thyroid cancer.

What happens during a thyroidectomy?

The operation is done under general anaesthesia. Surgery can be performed using minimally invasive surgery or traditional open surgery. Dr Heyns prefers to use a minimally invasive approach to minimize recovery and prevent excessive scarring.

Through small incisions made in the front of the neck, a thin tube-like instrument known as a laparoscope can be inserted. With the camera and light on the laparoscope, Dr Heyns will be able to visualize the thyroid gland. Then, depending on your diagnosis, your surgeon will carefully remove part or all of the thyroid gland.

What to expect after surgery

After the surgery, you may have some pain and stiffness in your neck. You expect to have a sore, hoarse throat for the next few days. You will be discharged from the hospital in a day or two.

You may have a drain placed in your incision to help with healing, but this will be removed before you are discharged. You can expect to return to your day-to-day routine in a week or two of surgery. If a total thyroidectomy was done, medication may be needed to replace your thyroid hormone.


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