Shania Twain gets candid about her open-throat surgery ordeal, 'I had to be awake'

In a recent interview, Shania Twain spoke about her open-throat surgery ordeal and revealed she lost her voice for years

Shania Twain spoke about her open-throat surgery
(Image credit: Kevin Dietsch / Staff / Getty Images)

Shania Twain has spoken about the open-throat surgery ordeal she went through in 2018. During the op the star was required to stay awake while her vocal cords were operated on.

In an interview with People (opens in new tab), Shania opened up about her struggles with losing her voice for seven years as she revealed she was genuinely concerned she would never be able to properly sing again. 

The singer said this affected her voice for years. "I mean losing my voice, that whole process was quite long, you know it really more than seven years and from the time that I was not able to be loud or project vocally at all," said Shania. "Singing, I could get to projection but I had to work, I had to get into that muscle memory and it was like hours of preparation and being on the microphone and it wasn't sustainable."

Shania Twain

(Image credit: Clive Brunskill / Staff / Getty Images)

The singer explained that it was scary as she had no idea what was happening and was told her vocal cords were in a good condition. "It was really weird, I'm like, I don't know what's happening but I can't yell out to the dog, I can't yell at a sports game, I can't cheer, I can't scream or anything. I started seeing specialists, I thought it was just exhaustion, I thought it was in my head because my vocal cords were in great shape," she said.

After years of her concerns being rejected, eventually, the singer was given a resolution. "Finally many years later made my way to a neurologist recommended by a head/neck surgeon. He said it's not your vocal cords condition, it's the nerves that create the vocal cord closure. It has to be symmetrical and it's got to be strong in order to phonate with any power," she said.

The singer then explained that the best solution was an invasive surgery on her throat. "I ended up getting an operation that gave support to the vocal cords that were lacking in nerve strength. Two weakened nerves supported by gore tex - what I call crutches," she said.

Horrifyingly, Shania had to be awake during this surgery, and even sing for her surgeon so that he could check that the operation was successful. "In an open throat surgery, I had to be awake, through the surgery in order to phonate. I had to be able to sing and speak for the surgeon so he could see the vocal cords coming together and where to place the gore-tex support," she said.


Despite the ordeal, Shania said that not being able to sing again was a much scarier idea than the surgery. "I was less afraid of that surgery than I was of never being able to sing again. Or even, verbally express myself the way I needed to." 

"Of course, I had to then go through rehabilitation. It's there all the time, but I have power and I can sing and I can yell and I can do it, and that brings me a lot of joy," said Shania as she revealed that there are still some struggles post-surgery.

The singer then reflected on her future career. "I may not be able to do it [sing] forever, and then maybe I have to make another decision do I wanna get another surgery, which I could do," she said as she revealed she still struggles. "Or maybe I just let other great voices sing my music and keep writing. I'll just make that decision when the time comes. I don't need to make it right now, I'm just enjoying where I am." 

In the interview, Shania Twain also opened up on devasting double betrayal that saw her husband cheat on her with her best friend. She also revealed why she is embracing her menopausal body and being naked at 57 and refusing to be self-conscious. 

Laura Harman

Laura is a news writer for woman&home who primarily covers entertainment and celebrity news. Laura dabbles in lifestyle, royal, beauty, and fashion news, and loves to cover anything and everything to do with television and film. She is also passionate about feminism and equality and loves writing about gender issues and feminist literature.


Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found travelling, baking, and hiking with her dog.