Michelle’s Experience with Transoral Surgery

Michelle Brodigan's Scarless Surgery Story

BIDMC Transoral Endocrine Surgery Patient Michelle Brodigan

When Michelle Brodigan was diagnosed with an indeterminate thyroid nodule and hyperparathyroidism (too much calcium in the blood), she was told she needed surgery. But the last thing Michelle wanted was another visible scar.

Michelle previously had skin cancer removed from her face and needed 27 stitches. “My husband and others don’t notice it, but it’s the first thing I see on my face every day,” she said. Michelle also has a scar on her arm from a different skin cancer, and being prone to keloids (extra scar tissue that forms over the scar), she was very excited and enthusiastic when she found out that Ben James, MD, Section Chief of Endocrine Surgery at BIDMC, offers a new “scarless” procedure for thyroid and parathyroid surgery.

It turned out that when Michelle was being evaluated for her symptoms of hyperparathyroidism, doctors also discovered a nodule on her thyroid. She needed surgery on both her thyroid and parathyroid.

James discussed the various options with Michelle – traditional surgery where an incision is made on the neck or a new innovative scarless approach where he accesses the thyroid and parathyroid by making incisions in the inner lower lip, a transoral procedure. Michelle jumped at the chance for James to perform the transoral procedure.

“Having never had surgery before and knowing I was going into a long operation, I should have been nervous,” Michelle said. “But I felt that Dr. James was confident in this approach and I trusted him. I also knew that if during the procedure, the transoral approach wasn’t going to work well, that he could perform the surgery the traditional way.”

Michelle healed successfully – she was back to work on the fifth day after the surgery.

“Michelle returned to her normal routine very quickly, but I do encourage my patients to take the time they feel necessary to rest after surgery,” said Dr. James. “For some patients, it’s quicker than others but everyone recovers at a different pace.”

Michelle is very pleased with not only her surgical experience and the results, but also with James and his team.

“Dr. James gave me his email and cell phone number,” Michelle said. “He checked up on me twice. And the nurse called me 24 hours and 48 hours after surgery. I felt extremely well cared for and all in all, I’m very glad I don’t have another scar.”