Can I stay thin after my thyroidectomy?

I have Papillary Thyroid Cancer. I am having a thyroidectomy next Thursday. First, I am relieved to learn that the cancer is not life-threatening. Now that I'm over the "c" word. I am scared to death about weight gain. I have always been thin, except for post partum periods, which I found to be extremely uncomfortable and depressing. I am terrified of gaining weight. I hate to sound vain, but I do not think I could handle being overweight. I am very active, exercise 5x/week and rarely sit down.

Please help, is there just one person out there who was an ideal weight before and maintained that afterward, or is every story one of weight gain and dispair??

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18 replies. Join the discussion

I had a partial and didn't gain any weight after- it has been about 2.5 years since my surgery. I did become hypothyroid post-surgery and currently take Synthroid 50 mcg.

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Thank you so much for the reply. My doctor actually gave me a bit of a lecture for going to a website that he had not put on my "list" of approved sites. He said the reason why was so that I would not do just what I did, read blogs by people who are having a tough time. He said people who are fine don't blog so you don't really read about the success stories. I know I must seem horribly vain to worry about weight gain. I am not very tall so a little bit of weight on me, who has never been very big would send me straight into depression. I am also very active with young kids so I just don't have time to be tired. I'm so glad to hear that it is not impossible to just keep going on with life just like the cancer never happened. Thank you for taking the time to reply. I cannot tell you what peace of mind you have given me. I am currently 3 days post-op and I feel great. I went the movies with my family. I am on 25mcg of Liothyronine. I do not intend to sit down and do nothing and I refuse to become overweight. I have already had so called friends tell me I will gain about 45 pounds. Anyone reading this blog that has a loved one with thyroid issues, please, keep the negativity to yourself!
Thanks again!

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I too have the same worries about the weight gain and after being to a couple sites and reading stories am feeling doomed. I keep losing weight because of the hyper thryoid (graves). I don't want to keep dealing with the misery.I got graves after the birth of my son and I didn't lose pregnancy weight for that whole first year. I came home from the hospital about 10 lbs less and it stayed there. I felt awful. then when I went on the antithyroids it seemed to help a little. When I went into remission it seemed like I was losing more. It turned out I was hyper again and even on the meds now I am still losing. Even taking prednisone as well. I wouldn't call us vein. Before all this happened it was never a worry. You eat right and stay active, but know it just seems like after the surgery the odds are against us. I am glad you are feeling well. Can you tell me you would do it again at this point. I need success stories. I go in next friday!

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HI Grizz,

I am now 5 months post thyroidectomy. I am great! I had to go off the hormones for 2 weeks prior to having radiation and that scared the life out of me. The doctor told me that everyone handles it differently. Some can't get out of bed and pack on weight and some don't notice much. I told myself from the start that this was not going to affect me. I lost a couple of pounds off the hormone. My body slowed and my eating slowed with it. I in no way starved myself, but I recognized that I wasn't hungry and didn't eat as much. With Graves you probably won't have to do radiation, which is good.

I am the same weight and size I have always been. I've always worn a size 4 and still do. I'm also 40 which is another hit to the old metabolism! I am still active and haven't changed a thing. I did go on back to back vacations overseas and then Disney World. I gained 2 pounds. There is life after losing your thyroid and it doesn't have to a plump one!

I will add that my endocrinologist told me that a lot of people have problems because they bend/break the rule about not taking your hormone for 2 hours after eating or 1 hour before. This inhibits the uptake and affectiveness. Some forget it all together here and there. I have 2 alarms. One is set for 4am. I get up and take my hormone and go back to bed. This way there is plenty of time until I get up and want a cup of tea and breakfast without waiting. Also, it's the only thing I'm doing at 4am so I don't forget. Otherwise it's easy to get caught up in the morning activities of getting kids off to school and forget.

Good luck to you. I believe that thinking positive helps.

To answer your question about would I do it again? Absolutely! I am cancer-free and feeling fine.

Hope this helps. I hate to think people are out there reading through the doom and gloom looking for a ray of hope.

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Hello all,
I had a complete thyroidectomy in April of this year. I was hyper before and seemed to stay hyper after the surgery. I just returned from an incredible trip to Ireland, and just before leaving reduced my medication for the 4th time and now feel great. Walking has been the key to feeling good, and that's the marker I look for. Not the ups & downs of weight.

I'm finding eating smaller meals throughout the day helps keep me on an even keel. All the best and yes, if we are feeling good, we need to blog all the more.

Warmly, Kalena

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I completely agree about the smaller meals throughout the day too. I have always been more of a grazer rather than 3 meals. I like to have snacks sprinkled trhoughout.

I'm so jealous, Ireland? I went to England and Scotland, which was fantastic. I was smart enough not to ask what hagis was until AFTER I ate it. Let me just say, it was good, but I don't think I'll be having that again!

I also agree about the exercise. I have always done something 5 times a week, whether it be mowing the lawn, jogging or getting on the elipitcal after the kids are in bed. I just feel better when I do it. It's also such a terrific stress relief. We are getting a new puppy this weekend so walking is going to become part of the regular routine.

Can I ask what dose you are on? They put me on 150mcg after radiation. I am a touch hyper, but my doc wants me to stay that way to help prevent cancer returning. I know everyone is different, just curious.

Thanks for your response and have a wonderful Halloween.

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Hi, I am a 16yr survivor of thyroid cancer. I've always been thin, losing my thyroid did not make much difference in weight gain for me. I am always hyperthyroid as my cancer is aggressive and I need to be as suppressed as possible. I was on 150mg synthroid for many years, and recently my endo lowered me to 125. No diff in weight gain.. I am also in my early 50's and certainly not the same weight I was when i got married 34yrs ago.. lol..but after 4 children an menopausal,, i hover between 115 and 120.

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Well, it's good to finally read some encouraging news about this! I am 53 and will have my total thyroidectomy in 2 days, following a "suspicious" biopsy on one of multiple nodules. The other sites scared me...reading that you WILL gain 30-50+ lbs! I have always been thin, so that's hard to imagine. But you all have been encouraging. I may sleep tonight.:-) If you have any other suggestions, let me know!

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I agree, it is good to read some encouraging news. I was diagnosed with a multinodular goiter a year ago. I had a needle biopsy on the 3 largest nodules with results of them being most likely benign. However, my specialist did say that even though they are benign they can turn cancerous. She also said that if I want they can remove my thyroid or it can be checked again in a year. Well, I am terrified at the thought of surgery, so I opted to be checked again in a year.
I do however get nervous because even with a biopsy I have read that the nodules can be cancerous. And like most people on this post I have also read the horror stories. Any thought would be greatly appreciated.

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I hope everything went well for you.. I lost alot after my thyroidectomy went from a 16 to 12 fast..

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I always say I'm a blessed person, although I can't say I'm deserving. Even in cancer, I was blessed with thyroid cancer, which is SO survivable!! I had cancer in one side right to the edge of my thyroid, but not outside at all. They took my whole thyroid out. I ended up having paralyzed vocal cords from the surgery. Wait! not the end of the world. First they were paralyzed open so I could breathe. The bad part was that I choked on almost everything because my windpipe wasn't closed off. I also could not speak. I went back 2 months post-op to have the nerves checked to see if there was any activity at all. The neurologist said one side showed activity, but the other side was completely dead. The ENT told me to wait another couple of months and if nothing improved he could push my dead cord over so the good one could hit it and I could make at least some sound and be able to speak.
I am completely serious when I say that very afternoon my voice started coming back. It is now strong and normal and awesome!

Don't be afraid of cancer. I would recommend having the thyroid taken out. It's better than letting it (if it is cancer) get out and into a lymph node. It's nothing, take it out and take a little pill each morning. It's just too easy. You will be okay. I missed 2 days of work when I had my thyroidectomy. The day of surgery and then the next day. I worked at home the week after that and then went on with life as usual. Of course, I carried a note pad around with me so I could write because of no voice. Everyone just learned to read my horrible writing.

Good luck to you. I think fear of the unknown is the worst, so get to know it and see it's not that bad. It could be SO much worse!

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I'm in my second day after my complete thyroidectomy, and am doing fine so far. No complications yet, and from the looks of the bandage, my scar may only be an inch long. (My surgeon is also a plastic surgeon, so he says it won't be noticeable in a year.) The pain has been very controllable, though I've been sleeping a lot. I have a pain pump that is giving me measured doses of local pain meds, and my husband will remove it probably tomorrow. (Could be interesting.:-)

Bartley, I had mine removed because my biopsy came back "suspicious". A year earlier it came back benign for all of my nodules, so I waited. From what I understand for those of us with a multi-nodular goiter, if all of your nodules are about the same size, the chances of cancer are less. But if you're like me, and you have one primary nodule with the rest smaller, the chance is greater. I got mine all removed after just a "suspicious", because not all thyroid cancers can be detected by the Fine Needle Asperation. And the quickie biopsy they can do in the operation room is not 100% accurate, so they sometimes have to turn around and take you back in. I got a second opinion (recommend it), and got the same recommendation...though I could have gone with just removing the one lobe. But they both pretty much said that I would be back for a repeat surgery soon...and why go through it twice. Plus one told me that it's easier to balance the thyroid hormones if all of the thyroid is gone, instead of having half of it, that also has nodules, giving irregular amounts of hormone.

So if your test is not "suspicious" yet, I'd say it's ok to delay, and get retested in a year...unless your nodules are growing quickly and bothering you in other ways. (Most thyroid cancers are very slow growing and don't spread much. But not all.)

BTW, I don't have my biopsy results back yet, but was told it's a 50/50 chance. I'm actually more worried about balancing the hormone than how the biopsy turns out. But have been encouraged by folks here doing well. Wonder what my husband is cooking for supper tonight?:-)

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Df and pajo, thanks so much for your responses. It gives me something to think about. It has been about 5 months since my biopsy, so I think I will wait at this point for my next appointment to see if the nodules have changed any.
I do have 3 large nodules and the rest are smaller. The three large ones are one on the left side, one on the right side and one on the isthmus. I can feel that there is something there, but I can live with it. Sometimes I notice them more than other times and I am not sure why.

You both sound like your doing well and that is comforting to know. It gives me hope. I get very anxious at the thought of operations. But I also know it is better to do now at my age(54) rather than later on if it does turn cancerous.

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Good news! My biopsy came back negative! The cells were abnormal, but not malignant...which they don't see very often. I'm at the end of day 8 and am more tired than I was several days ago. I'm sure the hormones are fluctuating and trying to figure out what I just did to them. Since my test was negative I got to start on my hormones on day 4 afterward. At another doctors suggestion I am taking natural hormones (Westhroid), as opposed to synthetic. Hopefully I can get the balance figured out without too much trouble. It turns out I'm anemic, too, so that doesn't help. (I was really sick for the month of Feb., so it might have helped if I had postponed surgery and gotten back up to full strength first.) BTW, my voice came back pretty quickly. I'm still a little hoarse, but no worse than having a cold. Anyway, I'm thrilled an relieved with my biopsy, and now learning the life of a thyroid-less person. I like your attitude, Df...having had a much harder time than I have. "It could be SO much worse"...and yes, we both are blessed. Keep us updated, bartley...and blessings to you!

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Oh, one thing I neglected to mention...(maybe because I'm trying to forget...ha.) I hate to be graphic, but the constipation was FAR worse than I knew was humanly possible. Oh my!! I was ready to ask for surgery for removal...ha. Thankfully I have a nurse friend who gave me some graphic tips on how to get out of my situation. So I'd highly recommend taking a laxative early on, before you know you need it.:-)

I know this isn't a blog on that topic...but for what it's worth.

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Great news!! That means no radiation. The two weeks I was off hormones for that was a little trying. Being so hypo really does slow EVERYTHING down. I purposely cut back my eating during that time. I found I really was not as hungry either. I told myself not to obsess about food, it wasn't going to be forever. I ate mostly fruits and vegetables to keep it simple. One thing I noticed at the end of 2 weeks with no hormones was when I got a migraine my medicaiton that normally only takes 45 minutes to work took well over 2 hours. After surgery my doc put me on the faster acting hormone (forgot the name) so I really did not feel hypo after the surgery until I had to go off the hormones for radiation. If you're on only Synthroid it will take a little longer for it to get into your system. I'm so glad to hear your news.

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It's like you read my mind and posted for me. THis post stream is so very encouraging, and like it is said below, people without issues don't usually blog that they are doing well so for someone new to a "Thyroid-less future", it's good to hear they aren't all bad experiences.

I was scheduled today for a total thyroidectomy for May 6, 2010. I was diagnosed with melanoma last year at this time so this is second cancer in a year. A PET Ct scan showed a 2.4 cm nodule we've been watching for a year that was lighting up. The FNA biopsy produced follicular cells that they could not decern if they were cancerous or not. My Thyroglobulin level is off the charts (881) and the melanoma means I'm more prone to growing cancer elsewhere. So the thyroid is coming out1 Although melanoma can be more deadly, I'm honestly much more worried that after the TT, my life as I know it will be significantly different and ---gasp-- worse.

I'm single, facing unemployment come mid-June and stuggling with the already massive med bills. But all of that I know is managebale and over-comable. However the prospect of relying on doctors to return me to and keep me as happy, opptomist, bubbly, and well balanced as I am and have been regardless of many hardships in my life is the scariest uncertainty. And the threat of weight gain is very daunting. I am a good, normal weight, but have to work at it with 5 days a wk in thegym, healthy lifestyle and eating habits. I have been trying to loss a last 5 pounds for summer but to read and worry that my new goals may be just to avoid gaining, pray my hair won't fall out and my skin won't flake off and freak that I'm not going to have the energy to do what I love to do....
Weight control, hair loss, low energy, headaches, all of it. So scary!

Well I just found this site and am very happy I did. I'm still very concerend for these side effects but am more open to the thought that they are possible, but not necessarily probable.Thank you to everyone who is sharing their not bad experiences. This site has been bookmarked and favorited!

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Vegasaly, I was like you...getting really scared reading other sites before my thyroidectomy, until I came to this site and found positive reports. So I am glad to be an encouragement to others who are dreading the unknown.

I am now almost 5 weeks past my surgery, and can hardly tell I had it. I'm taking the natural hormone replacement, Westhroid, and would highly recommend it over synthetic. (Armour is also natural, but I hear the fillers in Westhroid make it work better for many people.) I'm actually trying to gain weight that I lost being really sick a couple of months ago, and then not eating much the week after this surgery. So if weight gain is going to be an issue, it hasn't reared it's ugly head yet. My hair isn't falling out...and I've only had one emotional day since the surgery, and may have had it anyway.:-)

The only down side I seem to have is trouble getting rid of the head/chest cold that started up 2 months ago. My doctor says that since the surgery is so recent, my body is still adjusting and struggling to get rid of this bug. (I wish I'd gotten rid of it before the surgery, but I didn't want to delay it...and I wasn't coughing anymore.) But if that's my only problem, I am truly blessed!!

My biggest suggestion is to make sure you take the thyroid hormone as suggested...not around a meal (at least an hour before or two after eating.) I accomplish this by taking my pill at bedtime, and avoid eating later in the evening.

I'm so sorry to hear about your job/$$$ problems. We sure understand that at our house. We're carrying our insurance ourselves right now, and are only partially employed...and I also have an eye condition that requires regular expensive treatments. But I know it's a much bigger weight to carry when you're single. I'm so glad you're getting the surgery while you still have insurance through your employer.

I will be praying that all goes well for you! Please let us know how you're doing.

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