​​​​​​​​​​​​After Your Operation

On this page, you can read all about what to expect during your hospital stay. Or, just click on one of the links below, to get the answer you want right now.

Wh​at will happen right after my operation?

You will wake up in the Patient Anesthetic Care Unit (PACU) or Recovery Room. When you are fully awake and ready to go to your room, we will take you to the Consolidated Short Stay Unit (CSSU) at Toronto General Hospital or to Short Term Care Unit – 18B if you are at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. If we need to watch you more closely, you may need to recover on ENT/Head & Neck and Plastics Surgical Oncology Inpatient Unit at Toronto General Hospital.

What can I expect to have on my body?
  • You may have steri-strips or surgical glue to close your wound.
  • Rarely, a drain tube called a Hemovac or JP is put inside the neck near your incision to remove any extra fluid under your skin. Do not pull on it or try to empty the attached plastic bulbs. The surgeon will let you know when it will be removed.
  • An intravenous (IV) is a special needle put into a vein of your arm or hand. It is attached to tubing and a bag hanging from a pole. We use your IV to give you fluid and medication during and after your surgery. We usually take the IV out as soon as you can start eating and drinking well (usually right after surgery).

You may be connected to some tubes and machines:

  • Heart monitor – electrodes are placed on your chest and wires connects them to a monitor. It allows us to monitor your heart rate.
  • Oximeter – a small medical device is placed on your finger to allow us to monitor oxygen level in your blood.
  • Nasal prongs – a small plastic tube is placed in your nose. It allows us to give you extra oxygen.
  • Intravenous (IV) lines – small plastic catheters are placed in your arm and at the side of your neck. They allow us to administer needed IV fluids and medications.
  • Bladder catheter – a small plastic tube is placed in you bladder. It allows us to collect and measure your urine.
How will I feel after my operation?

Many people feel numbness on their face after surgery which can be felt up to your ears on both sides. This is from the freezing that the surgeon uses to minimize your pain. It is normal to feel some pain after surgery. Most people will have a sore throat. Your nurse will give you pain medication and medications to control nausea and vomiting. If there are no problems, you will also receive your usual home medications.

Depending on the type of surgery you had, you may have swelling around your neck. This swelling begins to go down slowly during the first week after surgery and continues to go down up to 6 weeks after surgery. It’s also common to have a bump on the top of your incision which can last up to a few months after surgery.

How long will I stay in the hospital?

Most patients will be able to go home the same day as the operation. Usually, you need to stay in the hospital for about 6 hours and then, your family or friends can drive you home. If your doctor wants you to stay overnight after your surgery, your checkout time will be 9:00 am the next morning.

Follow-up phone call after your thyroid surgery

Before you leave the hospital, the nurse will arrange a follow-up phone call with you. The nurse will call you the day after your surgery to make sure you are having a safe and comfortable recovery. The nurse will ask questions, give you information, and ask if you have any feedback about your hospital stay.