One common surgery performed on people is thyroid surgery, which typically involves removing part or all of the thyroid gland. This type of surgery is used to treat problems in the thyroid, including any cancer, a benign or cystic nodule causing problems, goiters, or some extreme forms of hyperthyroidism for which medication has not provided any benefits. Although surgeons will try their best to reduce the amount of scarring that occurs after surgery, you will have small, but noticeable scarring, as long as it heals properly.
Types of Thyroid Surgery
There are three main types of thyroid surgery: total thyroidectomy, thyroid lobectomy with or without an isthmectomy, or a subtotal thyroidectomy. A total thyroidectomy is the removal of the entire gland, including the surrounding lymph nodes. A thyroid lobectomy only removes one of the lobes of the gland, and it occurs when the problem is isolated to one area. It may include the removal of the connective tissues, known as the ishtmus. A subtotal or near total thyroidectomy removes one total lobe and part of the other one and is typically used for patients with Grave’s disease. Most thyroid surgeries are performed through endoscopic thyroidectomies, which reduces the amount of scarring and overall recovery time.
What is an Endoscopic Thyroidectomy?
Surgeons do their best to reduce the amount of trauma to the skin, and the rest of the body, when performing surgery. They often will create the incision in the natural creases of the skin on the neck, which will make the scar even less noticeable. Additionally, many surgeons now perform an endoscopic thyroidectomy, which is a minimally invasive surgery that only requires a very small incision on the neck, reducing the amount of scarring. A video camera and the necessary implements are inserted through the incision, and the surgeon performs the surgery using controls and the video camera. In some cases, you may still have a conventional thyroidectomy, which will require a larger incision and thereby leave a larger scar.
What to Expect from Thyroid Surgery Scars
The incision or incisions from your surgery will form scars as part of the naturally healing process. Most surgeons will cover the wound with some type of steri-strips or tape covering the stitches. These typically remain in place for a week or so while the skin begins to heal. You should follow your doctor’s orders about treating the incision area to reduce the risk of infection and re-opening the incision, as this will create additional trauma to the skin and intensify the prevalence of the scar tissue. You will want to keep the area as dry as possible and covered with bandages until the skin has healed well enough.
For the first six weeks or so, the incision may be bruised and slightly swollen, and it may also be raised a bit. As it heals, this will fade and it will begin to look similar to the surrounding skin. While the scar is healing, you should wear sunscreen of at least 30 SPF, as this will reduce any further damage to the skin cells by the UV rays of the sun. You can also use a scar treatment cream to help expedite the healing process.
Have a question about your surgery scars? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to help!
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