Thyroid surgery: Benefits, side effects and recovery time

Written by: Mr Atul Bagul
Edited by: Karolyn Judge

Thyroid surgery is performed in order to remove one's thyroid gland and is a very effective treatment option when it comes to thyroid disorders, such as cancer.


In this informative interview, highly experienced Leicester-based consultant general surgeon Mr Atul Bagul details both the benefits and potential complications with regards to undergoing thyroid surgery.

Surgeons undertaking thyroid surgery

Who may need to have thyroid surgery?

There are different reasons why a patient may need thyroid surgery. The thyroid is a gland which makes a hormone called thyroxine. So, the first reason it could be required is:

  • It's a benign lesion. This means there's no cancer, but the gland is hyperactive making a lot of excess hormones. The aim is to treat the symptoms, i.e. take the thyroid gland out.


The second reason thyroid surgery is required is that:

  • Because the gland is again enlarged, it's benign, and in medical terms we call it goitre. This is to treat the symptoms associated with an enlarged gland, such as compression of the windpipe which affects your breathing and swallowing, or the lump and the size itself.


The third reason could be because

  • The thyroid gland has a lump in it. This raises suspicion of cancer, or it's proven cancer and the aim is to take out the thyroid gland so as to treat the thyroid cancer.



What are the benefits of the procedure?

The benefits of this surgical procedure are to:

  • clear the symptoms, and secondly;
  • to treat any cancer, if it's because of this.



Are there any negative side effects?

Some patients can complain of post-operative discomfort. This usually settles down by taking simple painkillers, but of course, there are associated risks with any surgical procedure. The incidence of these is low, and it could be because of damage to surrounding structures like the blood vessels, and nerves. If the nerve gets damaged it can affect the voice; but this is under one per cent, i.e. less than one in 100 per cent of patients getting symptoms from it.


Then, you may require thyroxin supplements or calcium supplements. Some people can experience issues with scarring, so scar tissue can be an issue. You can also have complications such as fluid collections in the neck.



Is the procedure safe?

Yes, the procedure is safe. It's associated with low risk, but what we have to remember is, no surgical procedure is associated with zero per cent risk. Comparative to other surgical procedures, the risks are low and the recovery is quick.



What's the recovery period like after thyroid surgery?

Usually, this procedure is done as an overnight stay procedure. The following day, after the blood tests are checked, the drain is removed if people have one, and the stitch is removed then you can go home. Most people get back to normal day-to-day activities a few days after.



Is it possible to live a normal, healthy life after undergoing thyroid surgery?

Yes. The whole aim of the surgical procedure is to cure the disease process. Of course, depending on the disease process, you may need extra treatment such as:

  • thyroxin supplements;
  • radioactive iodine therapy.


And you will need a routine follow up so that you can keep an eye on things, especially if the surgical procedure was in relation to cancer surgery.




If you're concerned about your thyroid and are considering undergoing thyroid surgery, you can consult directly with Mr Bagul today, via his Top Doctors profile.

By Mr Atul Bagul

Mr Atul Bagul is a highly esteemed consultant surgeon based in Leicester, specialising in transplant and endocrine surgery. He is renowned for his expertise in renal transplantation surgery, parathyroid gland surgery, laparoscopic hernia surgerythyroid surgery and cholecystectomy.

Mr Bagul was awarded a bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery degree at Pune University, India in 1997. He later relocated to the UK and became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 2003. He was additionally awarded an MD from the University of Leicester in 2009. Mr Bagul has acquired a wealth of knowledge related to many aspects of surgery, undergoing clinical training at Guy’s Hospital, London in pediatric and adult transplant surgery as well as in colorectal surgery, transplant, endocrine and HpB surgery at Leicester General Hospital. He was made a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 2011 and completed a post CCT fellowship in 2013 in endocrine surgery at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield. Mr Bagul has been a consultant transplant and endocrine surgeon and head of transplantation services at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust since 2015.

Mr Bagul is a leading educator in his field and is honorary associate professor, supervisor of MD projects and medical education (PGCE) and educational supervisor for specialist trainees at University Hospitals Leicester. He is renowned for his extensive academic publications on his areas of expertise and additionally serves as the east midlands representative for the Kidney Advisory Group (KAG). He is also a member of the NHS Cancer Core (MDT) Multidisciplinary Team.

Mr Bagul’s skill, expertise and passion for exceptional patient care has been recognised in various awards. In 2021, Mr Bagul was awarded both a National Excellence Award for excellence in delivering patient care related to organ donation and transplantation and a Caring at it’s Best Award from University Hospital of Leicester.

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