Frequently Asked Questions

Please see below for answers to our FAQ’s. In addition to this, you will find a range of information sheets over at our Services page. If you require further assistance, then feel free to email us via the Contact page. 

The reasons for removing a nodule (lump) from the thyroid include – it causes symptoms including difficulty swallowing, it is cosmetically concerning, it is overactive, it is cancer. The aim of investigation of a thyroid nodule is to exclude these reasons and so to, if possible, avoid needing surgery.

Many people think a thyroid nodule is not part of the thyroid. In fact, the nodule is within the thyroid. Its removal usually requires the removal of half (hemithyroidectomy) or the whole thyroid gland (total thyroidectomy).

Not because of your surgery. Weight loss or gain is as a result of an imbalance between energy intake and expenditure. Ideally, thyroid hormone levels following surgery can be adjusted by administration of thyroid hormone to be within the normal range. In these circumstances, surgery or being on thyroxine replacement are not responsible for weight gain or loss.

The lymph nodes removed in neck dissection are in the order of 25% of the lymph nodes of the entire head and neck, which are only a fraction of the nodes in the entire body. Whilst it is possible that recovery from surgery and other treatment may render the patient less able to avoid some infections, this is more to do with general conditioning than the effect of lymph node removal.

No. The high level of calcium in the blood of a person with hyperparathyroidism is largely because the bones are being stripped of calcium. In the presence of high levels of parathyroid hormone (hyperparathyroidism), it is not possible for calcium to be laid down to strengthen bones.

It is fairly normal for even a perfectly healing wound on the neck to become darker over the first 6 months of healing before eventually fading. It is true however that it is most unusual for the scar to disappear, and that someone who has had surgery will always be able to see the scar.

As discussed on the parotid surgery page, the key to parotid surgery is the identification and preservation of the facial nerve. This nerve exists at the base of the skull about 4cm deep to the skin of the earlobe. Because the nerve is deep at this point, and this is the safest place to identify the nerve, the incision needs to be large enough to afford a good view. Once the nerve is found, the branches of the nerve need to be traced through the gland, past the tumour to allow for the safe removal of the tumour.

A/Prof Niles is a General Surgeon. Most General Surgeons contribute to the local community by taking part in an on-call roster at their local hospital to provide Emergency and Trauma Surgery cover. So, when A/Prof Niles is on-call at either the Northern Beaches, Sydney Adventist, Norwest or Liverpool Hospitals, he is required to care for those people who present to the Emergency Department with general surgical problems. This workload varies considerably, but can include appendicitis, cholecystitis, bowel obstruction and traumatic injuries to name just a few. Our aim is to provide excellent surgical care to any patients whose care we are entrusted.

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What to expect from Thyroidectomy surgery?

Thyroid surgery is generally very safe, and the risks of serious complications are very small. Just as every patient is different, so is every thyroidectomy scar. If you have a thin and long neck and the thyroid gland is not significantly large, the scar is usually about six centimetres along the collar line. The scar may need to be longer than this in situations where the neck is short and wide or the thyroid gland particularly large. As the neck is a part of the body, which is usually visible in a clothed person we pay special attention to wound closure to ensure that as good a cosmetic result is achieved as possible.


Most patients recover quickly from their thyroid operation and are well enough to leave the hospital the next morning. We advise taking it easy at home for 10-14 days after parathyroidectomy. Some patients feel unable to relax, or who have their own business to run return to work after about five days.

Occasionally the recovery time may be longer, for example, if the voice is recovering and we take this into account when providing a medical certificate. The neck muscles may be stiff and occasionally a little sore, you should not drive until you can turn your head comfortably to have full vision of the inside lane and when reversing.

Heavy household work should be avoided for two weeks and heavy manual work, especially involving heavy lifting avoided for six weeks. Similarly, contact sport should be avoided for six weeks, but exercise to maintain fitness such as walking, running, swimming, and cycling can be started after seven to ten days.