While thyroid surgery is something that many patients experience regularly, there is a concern many have regarding the aftermath of surgery and scarring. The fear of severe scarring from the surgery is enough to have patients questioning whether they intend to move forward with the surgery. Before getting thyroid surgery, it is important to understand what kind of incision is happening and how to treat the area during recovery. The visibility of your scar is completely up to you and how you treat the area once the thyroid surgery is over.
Incisions During Surgery
During any thyroid surgery, incisions are made along the neckline in order to access the thyroid. The size of the incision depends on the type of thyroid surgery you are having, and how much your doctor is removing during the procedure.
Immediately following surgery, your incision is sutured and sterile tape is placed on top, aiding in the recovery of the incision. While you are able to have a shower and even wash your hair, it is important not to get the incision area drenched in the water right away. This tape is essential for the skin to fuse back together and begin the healing process. Following surgery, you can expect the area to start swelling and also become numb for a few weeks until it healed.
During the recovery process, there are several ways that you can treat your incision so that you can reduce the scarring that takes place, minimizing its visibility and restoring your skin.
Ice Packs are Essential
As soon as surgery is over, and you begin the recovery process, one of the first things you will notice is swelling in the area, specifically around the incision. Swelling is expected in this area and very common. How you manage your swelling will determine how it affects your scarring over time. Too much swelling for too long of a period can impact how much scarring you have following the surgery. In order to reduce the swelling, you will need to rotate ice packs on the area above the incision and on the lower neck to keep from getting the tape wet. You may also start to notice some bruising in this area and in the upper part of your chest. With ice pack assistance, you are able to reduce this bruising also,
Keep Antibiotic Ointment Handy
Once that tape has been removed and the scar is exposed, you should have antibiotic ointment available to apply at least two times each day. This is very important for the first week or two after the tape has fallen from the incision. The area is vulnerable to infection from all types of things in the environment. Preventing infection in the incision will reduce the scarring left once it is fully healed. With sweat and even fragrances in your shampoo or body wash near the incision, the chances of an infection happening to the incision is possible, especially as you start to return to your daily activities.
Sun Exposure Increases Scarring
While your incision is trying to heal, you want to keep it out of the sun as much as possible. This does not mean you need to hide out in your home, but keeping sunblock on the incision throughout the day, especially if you are outside to prevent the sun from creating any further damage. Within the first year of having the surgery, sun exposure could make the scar darker and more visible, so make sure to always have your sunscreen and cover the area, if possible, when outside. Also, you want to avoid any tanning booths during this time, as the UV rays will impact the body just the same, so treat these beds and booths as you would the sun and reduce your exposure for a while.
Enrich the Incision With Vitamin E
During recovery and even after the incision has fully healed, you want to apply lotion with vitamin E to the area to reduce the scarring. Vitamin E aids in skin and scar recovery and reduces the appearance of scars so that they are not as visible. There are a number of lotions available to assist with this, but you want to make sure that you are not applying a lotion that is fragrant. It will irritate the scar just like shampoo and make room for infection and more visible scarring.
In addition to lotion, any vitamin supplements that you take regularly should have vitamin E in them, also assisting with the healing and repairing of the incision. Vitamin E, whether applied topically, orally, or both will go straight to the affected area and infusing the healing process.
Massage Your Incision
When you are about two weeks into your recovery and the sterile tape has fallen off of the incision, you want to give the surgical area a massage with your fingers a few times a day in order to stretch out the skin and reduce potential hardening. During the healing process, your skin will want to harden around this area, turn a pinkish color and be very visible for a few weeks. When you massage this area, just use two fingers and press into the incision where the skin is starting to harden. This will loosen up the area and reduce visibility.
Moving Forward With Thyroid Surgery
With so many ways to treat and manage scarring, it is important to know that all incisions are as small as possible for the surgery and there are a number of ways to treat the area in order to reduce visibility. Many patients of thyroid surgery are able to drastically reduce the visibility of their scar by its placement in the neckline and the different ways they treated the area after surgery.
The surgeons at C/V ENT Surgical Group have extensive experience with minimally invasive incisions and various scar regimens following surgery to help in a quick and easy recovery. If you are in need of a consultation and need to speak to a specialist at C/V ENT Surgical Group, contact us today for more information. We look forward to assisting you with your health and surgical needs.