Thyroplasty is a surgery performed to improve the quality of a patient’s voice as well as the ability to cough. This is accomplished by changing the position of the patient’s vocal cords.
The procedure is performed in an operating room and involves making a small incision in the neck to expose the voice box. A Gore-Tex implant is inserted through a hole in the voice box to adjust the vocal cords to the correct position. While the patient is asleep through parts of the procedure, they are awakened after the implant is inserted and asked to speak so that the voice box can be adjusted.
What Are the Risks of Thyroplasty?
As with any surgery, a thyroplasty does pose certain risks:
- It is normal to experience some pain and discomfort in the neck following the procedure.
- In rare cases, a patient may experience hoarseness and worsening of their voice quality.
- Although rare, the procedure can cause temporary or permanent difficulties with swallowing.
What to Expect Following a Thyroplasty
You will have a bandage around your neck when you wake up. It is important that you do not manipulate the bandage in any way. You should not use your voice at all for the first three days following surgery. You should only communicate electronically or by using a whiteboard or pen and paper. Limited voice use is allowed after three days; however, you should still refrain from excessive talking or yelling. You can resume normal voice use after a week. You will be on a liquid diet immediately following the surgery and can progress to your normal diet as tolerated.
After your procedure, you might receive a prescription for pain medication. You should leave the stickers covering the incision in place. They will fall off on their own in about a week. The incision should be kept completely dry for the first three days following surgery. You should also avoid strenuous physical activity for the first two weeks after surgery.
Be sure to seek immediate medical attention if your neck becomes red or swollen or if you develop fever, difficulty breathing, or bleeding.