Tonsils produce certain types of white blood cells that fight disease. Tonsils serve as the first line of protection of the immune system against bacteria and viruses that invade the mouth.

Inflamed Tonsils

This function can make them especially vulnerable to inflammation and infection and is more common in children. Unlike the immune system of an adult, a child’s system has had less exposure to bacteria and viruses and therefore has immunities to grow against them.

Tonsillectomy is a surgical operation that extracts all palatine tonsils entirely from the back of the throat. The treatment is primarily for chronic throat infections and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and other breathing problems due to enlarged tonsils.

Recovery time is typically at least 10 days to two weeks for a tonsillectomy.

Complications of enlarged tonsils

Complication encountered by enlarged tonsils are:

  • Breathing difficulties;
  • Disrupted respiration while sleeping;
  • Swallowing up difficulty;
  • Certain tonsil diseases;

Rare diseases or disorders of the tonsils are treatable by tonsillectomy.

  • Cancerous tissue in a tonsil, or both;
  • Recurring leakage from blood vessels close to the tonsil surface;

In whom tonsillectomy is required?

In patients with:

  • Recurring tonsillitis, chronic or severe;
  • Enlarged tonsil complications;
  • Tonsils Bleeding;
  • Certain rare tonsil diseases;

Tonsillectomy procedure

Tonsillectomy takes around 20 to 30 minutes and can be performed in many ways. Both the tonsils are usually excised and in some single tonsil removal is also helpful.

The technique is modifiable according to the need. Some common techniques include:

  • Electrocautery: Using heat to remove the tonsils and avoid bleeding
  • Dissection by cold knife (steel): Tonsils are removed using scalpel. Electrocautery or stitching is applied for stopping the bleeding
  • Harmonic scalpel: Treatment is carried using ultrasonic frequency vibrations
  • Other approaches include using ablation techniques with radiofrequency, a carbon dioxide laser, and/or a microdebrider.


Tonsillectomy, like many other surgeries, has certain risks:

Aesthetic reaction: During surgery, medicine to help the patient sleep sometimes causes mild, short-term complications such as headache, nausea, vomiting, or muscle aches. Rarely late period complications are seen and one such rare condition is death due to anesthesia.

Swelling: In the initial few hours post-intervention, the patient can have swelling of tongue and soft palate which can cause breathing trouble.

Bleeding: Significant bleeding happens during surgery in rare cases, which needs further care and a longer stay in the hospital.

Healing time bleeding. Bleeding occurs in case of early dislodgement of a scab from the wound.

Infection. Surgery will rarely lead to an infection which needs further care.

Before surgery

Prior to the surgery, all the instructions will be given on the preparation which will include:

  • Medications that are ongoing will be evaluated by the surgeon
  • Evaluation of adverse reactions to anesthesia
  • Evaluation of any bleeding disorders
  • Any known allergy or adverse reactions to medications

The surgeon will advise:

  • Anticoagulants, if ongoing, stopped before 2 weeks of surgery
  • To keep nil by mouth for at least 8 hours
  • On what to eat and what to avoid
  • About the recovery period and what is needed from the patient’s and relatives end

What you can expect

Tonsillectomy performed on an outpatient basis. Hospital stay increases when there is some adverse event.

During the surgery

Tonsillectomy performed using high-tech medical instrumentation.

During recovery

Patients complain about the pain after the surgery. Patients advised having plenty of fluid intake after surgery. Avoid food causing pain or bleeding.

Take adequate rest for 2 weeks after the surgery. Avoid physically taxing activities.

Generally, within this time period, patients are able to get back to their normal activities.

When to see the doctor

In case of the patient is having to bleed, or has a high-grade fever (more than 101°F), or decreased fluid intake causing dehydration, or if the patient is experiencing weakness, headache, etc. or if the patient is having difficulty in breathing, or any other adverse event not mentioned elsewhere, then the patient should immediately contact the surgeon.

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