In general, thyroid surgery is well tolerated and the vast majority of patients will have a smooth recovery. However, there are some things that everyone can expect with any type of thyroid surgery.
You will experience some discomfort at the incision site as well as a raw or sore throat from the breathing tube that was inserted during surgery. Pain in the back of the neck or stiffness of the neck muscles can result from the position of the neck during surgery. Many patients will feel that there is something stuck in their throat or that they need to frequently clear their throat after surgery.
All of these are normal, expected symptoms following surgery. Ice chips, cool drinks, throat lozenges (Cepacol) or throat spray (Chloraseptic) can be beneficial for sore throat. It is recommended to avoid excessive coughing or throat clearing as these activities put extra strain on the neck and may increase the risk of bleeding. The feeling of something in the throat should clear on its own in several days time.
Some patients experience temporary hoarseness or difficulty swallowing. On rare occasions, the nerve that controls your vocal cord movements may have sustained surgical trauma, resulting in paralysis of one or more vocal cords. If the injury is mild, the nerve will recover with time and your voice will return to normal. If the injury is more severe, the paralysis may be permanent. Permanent paralysis may result in permanent hoarseness of the voice, and some may feel more short of breath if trying to speak to quickly.