Thyroidectomy - going private

A thyroidectomy is a fairly routine operation that can help treat an overactive thyroid gland and is available in private hospitals all over the UK. If you need a thyroidectomy, you may choose to go private for a variety of reasons.

Perhaps you or your spouse has private healthcare insurance through work? Or maybe you want to pay for your thyroidectomy because you want to be seen quickly. There is usually no waiting list for a thyroidectomy in the private sector. As well as the convenience of being seen when you want to be, you can also choose when and where to have the thyroidectomy and you can choose your consultant. Going private also means you get more privacy, with your own room to recover afterwards.

This article on going private for a thyroidectomy is by Kathryn Senior, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.

How much does a private thyroidectomy cost?

The approximate cost of a private thyroidectomy in the UK is between £4,000 and £5,000, depending on the hospital. This includes all medical bills and also covers the cost of a two-night stay. You do not have to go to your nearest private hospital - you can have your thyroidectomy at any hospital offering thyroidectomy. So you could choose to be close to relatives or friends making visiting easier.

Why would I need this?

Your thyroid gland is at the base of your neck, in front of your windpipe. The thyroid is an endocrine gland, which secretes hormones into your bloodstream. These control your whole metabolism and set the speed at which all your body’s processes work. When something goes wrong with your thyroid, your whole system gets out of balance.

You may be advised to have it if you have:

  • An overactive thyroid gland. This leads to hyperthyroidism, a condition where your thyroid gland is producing too much hormone
  • An enlarged thyroid gland
  • Cancer of your thyroid gland
  • A cyst or non-cancerous lump on your thyroid gland

What happens during the procedure?

In most cases, a thyroidectomy removes the entire thyroid gland but it is possible to remove only a part of it to relieve your symptoms. The operation usually takes about two hours. A thyroidectomy is performed under general anaesthetic, which means you will be asleep throughout. Once the anaesthetic has taken effect, the surgeon will make a cut into your lower neck. If you already have a crease in your lower neck, the cut will be made there for cosmetic reasons. Your surgeon will remove all or part of your thyroid gland. Once the thyroidectomy is complete, the cut will be closed with stitches or surgical clips.

What happens after the procedure?

Your private room will be well equipped and you will have a drip providing you with fluids, probably going into a vein in the back of your hand. You may have a fine tube running from the thyroidectomy wound when you first wake up after the operation. You may also have a catheter to drain urine from your bladder into a bag. These will usually all be removed the next morning, or within 24 hours.

You are bound to have some pain and stiffness in your neck after your thyroidectomy. Let your surgeon or a nurse know if you're in a lot of pain and they will give you some painkillers. Private hospitals usually have very good visiting hours and you will be able to see your friends and family as soon as you feel up to it.


You may find it uncomfortable to swallow for a few days after your thyroidectomy so it may help to stick to soft foods. If your whole thyroid gland was removed, you will be given hormone replacement medicine to take. This will replace the hormones that your thyroid gland would usually make, but at the right levels to help your metabolism get back to normal.

After your thyroidectomy the effects of an overactive thyroid should disappear and, if not entirely removed, your thyroid will be back to normal size. If your thyroid was pressing on your windpipe, the pressure will be removed and you’ll find much breathing easier.

What aftercare and follow-up is necessary?

If you choose to go private for your operation, the staff at the private hospital will ensure you are comfortable. They are as well trained as nurses within the NHS and you will have access to painkillers to reduce the pain in your neck. You will be given some exercises to help reduce the stiffness in your neck. You will need to do these exercises until you can move as well as you could before the operation.

Your stitches or clips will usually be removed a few weeks after the operation. If you have dissolvable stitches, they usually disappear in around two to three weeks. Your private healthcare team will make a follow-up appointment for you to have a check up to ensure that all is well after the operation. If you need ongoing care, this is available but it may be at an additional cost.

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