Scarless thyroid surgery

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The thyroid is a tiny gland in the throat that has a big impact on our health; producing hormones that are critical to metabolism, heart and digestion.  

When there's a problem, surgery is sometimes the best option, but it's a procedure that can leave a two-inch visible throat scar. But a new technique is making thyroid surgery invisible.

Mary bowman is a college professor; teaching health information technology; but over the past few years, grading papers has become tougher. 

Bowman says, "It got to be a headache, with the double vision." 

Last year, Bowman was diagnosed with Graves' disease; a thyroid condition that causes her eyes to bulge. Finally, Bowman and her doctor decided her thyroid needed to come out, but she had always been afraid she'd have a nasty scar.

Bowman says, "He said that they had a new procedure that you go through the mouth, and I couldn't believe it. I'm like, there's no way." 

University of Chicago surgeon Raymon Grogan is one of a handful of US experts using the new technique.

Dr. Grogan says, "The first thing we do is make three small incisions on the inside of the lower lip. Those incisions are midline, and then on each corner of the mouth in order for us to gain access to the neck with laparoscopic instruments." 

Surgeons then work underneath the skin to access the thyroid, and remove it through the incision in the mouth.

Dr. Grogan says, "There still is a scar, it just happens to be in the inside of the mouth. Those scars on the inside of the mouth tend to heal up so well that after a year you can't even find them." 

Bowman had a sore throat for several days, but was back to work shortly after surgery. And now, feels better than ever.

Bowman says, "It's done wonders for me." 

Doctors say complications are rare compared to the open surgery. 


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