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Your ENT and Hearing Care Specialists

What is Tonsil Surgery?

Child with ENT

A tonsillectomy is the official name for a tonsil surgery that involved the removal of scarred and infected tonsils. The tonsils sit in the back of the throat, just behind the visible tongue, and they serve to help fight infection. When the tonsils become infected, the infections stop responding to antibiotics and the tonsils are more infected than they’re not, it’s time for them to come out. In some cases, tonsillitis can go away on its own when it’s mild. However, when it’s at its most severe, tonsillitis can be difficult to manage. Enter tonsil surgery, the savior of the hour!

Do I need tonsil surgery?

It’s more common for children to deal with tonsil surgery than it is for adults. An ear, nose and throat doctor is often more reluctant to refer an adult for a tonsillectomy, mainly because of the recovery period. Children bounce back; they’re resilient, so tonsil surgery is more easily overcome for a child. Tonsillitis that occurs once a year is usually not a cause for concern, but repeated infections can warrant a tonsil surgery on the cards.

What else can a tonsillectomy help?

Removal of the tonsils during tonsil surgery doesn’t just prevent tonsillitis. There are a number of other medical issues that a tonsil surgery can help:

  • Cancer of the tonsils - no tonsils equals no cancer.
  • Frequent and loud snoring due to overcrowding in the throat.
  • Breathing issues and sleep apnea related to enlarged tonsils.
  • Bleeding in the tonsils.

What does a tonsil surgery involve?

There are two ways that tonsil surgery can be performed and your ear, nose and throat doctor can help you to work out which will be best for you. The first method is known as cold knife dissection, where the tonsils are removed with a scalpel. The second method involves cauterization, where the surgeon burns away the infected and scarred tissue. The procedure itself takes around half an hour, and you will be under general anesthetic during the procedure so that you don’t feel any pain throughout.

Usually, patients can go home the same day after the tonsillectomy barring any complications. There are some risks to be aware of, and these include swelling, bleeding, infection or a reaction to anesthesia - which is incredibly rare.

What happens afterward?

Patients can experience some pain post-surgery and this can be felt in the ears, jawline and neck. Getting plenty of rest is a must after surgery; the more that you rest, the faster you heal from surgery. Sipping water and eating ice pops can soothe and help your throat during the recovery along with keeping you hydrated. Follow the protocol for pain as set out by your doctor; it will help. The biggest bright side of a tonsil surgery is the fact that there are far fewer infections in the future!