Thyroid surgery without the scar

Robotic procedure fixes cosmetic concerns


CELEBRATION, Fla. –  Everything was falling into place for Robin-Reed Hicks. The long-time voice actress had just been hired for the opportunity of a lifetime: hosting her own nationally television talk show.

 On "Journey with Robin Reed", which airs on DISH Network's Afrotainment channel, Reed-Hicks interviews everyone from cancer survivors to high-profile newsmakers like defense attorney Mark O'Mara.

A few months into her new job, Reed-Hicks' mother came to visit and noticed a difference in her daughter.

 Her mother very candidly told her that her neck was looking fat.

 When Reed-Hicks went to her next physical, she mentioned this to her doctor who decided to examine the thyroid.

 After an ultrasound, a nodule was discovered on Reed-Hicks thyroid which doctors said had a 40 percent probability of being cancerous.

 "I'm a wife. I'm a mother. I've got a little boy in the fourth grade.  I've got a husband who counts on me. This is not supposed to happen at this point in my life," said Reed-Hicks.

 She had to get the nodule removed but knew the traditional surgery which entails an incision in the middle of the neck, would have glaring cosmetic side effects.

"As an African American our tendency is to keyloid scar, which is a raised scar --not only raised but discolored from our skin tone," said Reed-Hicks.

She frantically searched the internet for an alternative to the surgery and found that a robotic thyroidectomy may be the answer.

In the procedure, the surgeon inserts robotic instruments underneath the armpit and then travels up past the neck and clavicle area to reach the thyroid.

The scar is concealed under the patient's arm.

However, the problem was that there are not many surgeons in the entire world who will operate on the thyroid robotically.

In reading through medical studies about the procedure she came across Dr. Scott Magnuson's name. Dr. Magnuson had performed the surgery in other parts of the country and trained other doctors as well.

Coincidentally, he had just begun practicing at Florida Hospital Celebration.

Not long after her first visit with Magnuson, Reed-Hicks became the first patient at Florida Hospital to have a robotic thyroidectomy.

When the nodule was finally removed, Reed-Hicks got the outcome she had hoped for.

"The biggest blessing was that it wasn't cancer, but I feel beyond blessed because I now have a scar that isn't visible to the audience," she said.

Robotic thyroidectomy is not always an option for patients needing to have nodules removed.  Sometimes the nodules are too large and there is no other way to access the area other than making an incision directly through the neck.

Dr. Magnuson performs dozens of other robotic procedures on the head and neck that are considered minimally invasive.

He recommends doing a self-exam to check your thyroid, by watching yourself swallow in a mirror to see if anything appears out of place.

More information about Magnuson and robotic head and neck surgeries is available by clicking here.