Using this guide What's covered

Here you’ll find answers to many of your questions about thyroid surgery (thyroidectomy). Learn how it’s done, what it may cost, what your recovery may be like, and more.

To see how the surgery works, view our animation below.

For personal insights, see our patient experience videos in which HCF members talk frankly about their preparation, surgery and recovery.

Cost indicator

Discover the typical out-of-pocket costs HCF members can expect to pay for thyroid surgery and learn how your choice of surgeon and hospital affect that cost.


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Learn about thyroidectomy

This short animation explains how and why the thyroid is removed.

The basics

What’s the thyroid gland?

Your thyroid gland is in the front of your neck, below your voice box. It consists of two lobes, like butterfly wings. It produces hormones that control a number of bodily functions including your energy level, temperature, heart rate, and muscle tone. If your thyroid produces too much or not enough thyroid hormone, you can experience a wide range of symptoms.

Why might I need thyroid surgery?

Thyroid surgery can involve removing some or all of your thyroid gland. Reasons may include:

  • a large thyroid lump or nodule causing pressure symptoms or cosmetic concerns
  • an enlarged thyroid (goitre) that affects your ability to swallow and/or breathe, or is at risk of doing so because it‘s growing or extending into your chest
  • a lump biopsy result or ultrasound image that's suspicious, or might be cancer
  • an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism or Graves' disease)
  • thyroid cancer.

How does thyroid surgery work?

There are several different types of surgery:

  • total thyroidectomy removes your entire thyroid — the left and right lobes
  • hemithyroidectomy removes one lobe of your thyroid gland
  • thyroid nodulectomy removes a thyroid nodule and leaves the rest of your thyroid gland intact. This is not often recommended by surgeons.

The type and extent of your surgery will depend on your condition.

The details


Alternatives to thyroid surgery

There may be non-surgical alternatives for thyroid problems, depending on your condition.

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Types of thyroid surgery

There are several different types of thyroid surgery.

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Results vs risks of the procedure

The benefits and potential complications of thyroid surgery.

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Choosing a specialist

How to find a surgeon who specialises in thyroid surgery.

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Questions for your surgeon

What to ask before going ahead with surgery.

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Preparing for surgery

Pre-operative tests and preparation.

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Your anaesthetic options

The types of anaesthesia and post-op pain relief you may be offered.

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Going to hospital

What to expect on the day of the procedure.

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Your surgery

What happens in the operating theatre?

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After your surgery

Your hospital stay and recovery.

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Resuming activities and watching for problems.

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Treatments after surgery for thyroid cancer

Your treatment options following cancer surgery.

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People who’ve had thyroid surgery talk about their preparation, hospital stay and recovery.


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Important information

Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.