A tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the tonsils from the back of the throat. Tonsils are two small glands located in the back of your throat. Tonsils house white blood cells. They are part of your body’s system to fight infection and are only important during the first few years of life, but sometimes the tonsils themselves become infected.
The procedure is mainly performed for recurrent throat infections and obstructive sleep apnoea.
A tonsillectomy is usually recommended if you have:
The main benefit of a tonsillectomy is that your general health may improve. Removal of the tonsils will prevent further episodes of tonsillitis. You may still get sore throats, but this should not be as frequent.
Removing the tonsils will help to solve these problems:
You will have a sore throat when you wake up which can last for a few days. Some patients also have an earache after the surgery. This is because the tonsils share some of the same nerves. This is normal and should go away in about two to three days. Chewing gum or sucking ice can ease the pain and can be helpful if you have associated earache.
The operation is carried out under a general anaesthetic. The patient will be asleep throughout the operation. The operation is performed through the mouth, meaning there will be no external cuts or scars. It generally takes about 30 to 45 minutes. After the surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room, where you will wake from the anaesthetic.
You can leave hospital on the same day as the operation, once you are able to eat and drink. However, you will need to stay for a few hours after your procedure so you can be observed for bleeding.
It is normal for the throat to be sore. You should make sure that you have enough pain relief at home for 7 days.
Keep drinking plenty of fluids. You should be able to eat and drink as you normally would a day after the operation. A healthy, balanced diet will help your wound to heal and prevent an infection. Eating foods like toast, biscuits and crisps will help keep the area where the tonsils were removed clean. This will help with the healing process. It is best to give pain relief half an hour before meals to help make eating and drinking more comfortable.
You may well find that it takes a couple of weeks to get ‘back to normal’. Rest is advised for the first few days, before you gradually get back to your normal routine. We recommend that you take 10-14 days off work. During this time, you should try to avoid large groups of people, people with coughs and colds and smoky or dusty environments. This is because you are more vulnerable to picking up an infection while your throat is healing.
Our healthcare team will reassure you about any concerns you might have and will endeavour to make your procedure as safe as possible. As with all surgical operations there are risks and possible complications.
A tonsillectomy is a simple and safe operation. Your doctor will explain these risks to you during your consultation. Please ask any questions if you are uncertain.
Complications may include, but are not limited to:
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