Parathyroid surgery is life-changing for most people. The vast majority of people say that it is nothing short of a miracle. But when this changes is dependent upon 1) how long you have had a parathyroid tumor, 2) how severe your disease is, 3) what symptoms you have, and 4) other underlying diseases.
When will I feel the change?
People are different, and different symptoms go away at different times. We cover this in the blue “after your operation” section, so go there to read more, and to read about the Turtle and the Rabbit. Some people feel amazing within 2 hours of the operation. Most people feel the miracle happens between 5 and 7 days after the operation. Some people (the turtles) don’t feel much different for 1-2 months. But 95% of people say what happened to them, and the returning “joy of life” happens within a few days or weeks of surgery.
Do some people have no changes?
A parathyroid operation does not change the life of everybody. About 5% of people (that is one in twenty) people don’t have many changes and sometimes these folks get frustrated a month or two later when other people had a miracle and they did not. Most often, these are people who have LOTS of symptoms (they check nearly every symptom on the “symptoms” page of parathyroid,com. Also, those that don’t get a miracle are typically people that have “mild” biochemical disease–that is, they have calcium levels that are only mildly elevated and PTH levels that are high normal. Do they have a parathyroid problem, almost certainly, but the parathyroid problem may be only a small part of the overall issue going on in their body. If these folks are still feeling the same a few months after the operation then the answer is that the parathyroid problem was NOT the cause of their symptoms. If this is you, you must avoid the temptation to say that the parathyroid problem isn’t fixed because the symptoms are still present. The answer is that the symptoms were not due to a parathyroid problem in the first place.
Nobody can tell who won’t get better.
We can almost always tell who is going to have a life-changing experience after getting their parathyroid problem fixed–it’s about 95% of the people we operate on. However, even after more than 34,000 parathyroid operations we have a hard time telling who ISN’T going to get amazing relief of their symptoms. Sometimes we have a clue, and we tell these people before the operation that they are in the 80/20 category, meaning that they have about a 20% chance of undergoing no changes after the operation. If we tell you that you are in the 80/20 category, this means that our experience from looking at your lab values and your symptoms, and comparing them to many thousands of people that we have already treated, that you are in the category that your symptoms (and possibly even your lab tests) may not change after the operation. The “20” means that you have a 20% chance that this will happen to you.