What Are Potential Side Effects of a Total Thyroidectomy?

BSIP/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

According to Mayo Clinic, a complete thyroidectomy leaves the body unable to make the thyroid hormone levothyroxine. Synthetic hormone drugs must be taken after a complete thyroidectomy to prevent the patient from suffering from symptoms of hypothyroidism. According to WebMD, the symptoms of hypothyroidism include low energy levels, dry skin, easily getting cold, heavy menstrual periods, constipation and trouble remembering things.

A total thyroidectomy removes the entire thyroid gland, which is located in the front of the neck just below the Adam’s apple. Although generally a safe procedure, Mayo Clinic cautions that there are risks as with any surgery. Surgical complications can include bleeding, infection, a permanently altered voice due to nerve damage and damage to the parathyroid glands.

Once the thyroid is removed, levothyroxine pills are necessary to prevent hypothroidism. Mayo Clinic notes the patient’s doctor monitors hormone levels in blood tests for several months after the hormone replacement therapy begins to ensure levels are neither too high or too low. In some cases, the synthetic levothyroxine dosage is too high, which leads to hyperthyroidism. WebMD lists the effects of hyperthyroidism as sweating, headache, mood changes, diarrhea, shaking and shortness of breath. Mayo Clinic encourages patients undergoing a thyroidectomy to consult with their doctor prior to the procedure about how to prepare and manage potential side effects.