Transoral thyroidectomy offers a scarless alternative

Sheri Caine wasn’t interested in seeing a reminder of her thyroid cancer surgery every day. “It was just every single time looking into the mirror, I didn’t need to be reminded of my own mortality.”

A surgical team from the University of Chicago Medicine led by Drs. Raymon Grogan and Zhen Gooi was the first in the Midwest and the fourth in the United States to remove diseased thyroid or parathyroid glands – located at the front of the neck, an inch or two below the chin – using an approach that leaves no visible scar.

The standard thyroid operation has long been performed through a two-inch or longer opening in the neck, known as a transverse-collar incision. This leaves a permanent, obvious scar. The new trans-oral approach, was designed to hide the scar. Instead, surgeons make the incision inside the mouth, at the crease between the gums and the lower lip.

“No one but your dentist will see this, and most dentists will not notice,” said Raymon Grogan, MD, assistant professor of surgery and director of the endocrine surgery research program at the University of Chicago. “Once the incisions have healed, patients cannot see them.”

After the surgery, Sheri offered this advice to prospective patients: “I would tell them to do it in a heartbeat. There’s no scar. There’s no reminder that I ever had the surgery.”

You can read more about transoral thyroidectomy in this earlier story.

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