Michelle is a pharmacist living in the New York City area. In the early months of 2020, she found it harder to swallow. “I knew I needed to get it checked out,” she recalled.
She feels very fortunate that she could have the surgery right before COVID-19 shut down the city. “With COVID-19 looming, Weill Cornell Medicine worked hard to expedite the entire treatment process —from the initial scans to the surgery,” explained Michelle. She ended up having to have half of her thyroid removed but has had no resulting complications and does not need to take thyroid medication.
Dr. Banuchi performed the surgery in March 2020. “Everything went smoothly throughout my treatment. For the first week after the procedure, I felt some pain and had stitches in my mouth. I also had some dietary restrictions. But I was ready to go back to work within a week and felt wonderful within two weeks,” recalled Michelle
When asked if she has any advice for others that have been diagnosed with a thyroid nodule, Michelle said, “Take care of them when they are small. Don’t wait until your symptoms get worse.” As for the scarless surgery, Michelle said, “I was okay with a scar, but I thought this procedure was so cool. With the scarless surgery, I feel like I got a Tesla for the price of a Ford!”
Scarless thyroid surgery (sometimes called “scarless thyroidectomy”) is an advanced technique. During this procedure, the thyroid is accessed through the mouth, called a “transoral” approach. The surgeon makes several small incisions on the inner surface of the lower lip. The surgeon then accesses and treats the specific condition through these openings. The inner lip incisions heal completely, without any external neck incisions.
The scarless thyroid surgery has similar success rates to traditional thyroid and parathyroid surgeries through neck incisions. As with any surgery, there are some risks with this procedure. However, for most patients, both approaches are highly safe and effective with a low rate of complications.
In this series, Weill Cornell Medicine patients share their experiences before, during and after the scarless thyroid surgery. All three are grateful for the compassionate guidance and expert surgical care they received from Dr. Victoria Banuchi and care team.