What to expect following Tonsillectomy with or without Adenoidectomy

Removal of the tonsils is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in the world.  It is performed under general anesthesia, which means one is fully asleep and unconscious. As in any surgical procedure involving the throat a certain amount of discomfort is to be expected following the procedure and this may last anywhere from 3-14 days depending on the patient. Age, overall health status, and smoking play a role. The younger, healthier patient generally heals more rapidly and requires less post-operative pain medications.

Hydration is the most important factor in helping one heal following tonsillectomy. Fluids are encouraged in the form of water, Gatorade, popsicles, apple juice and the like. Citric and tomato juices should be avoided as they may aggravate discomfort. Dairy products are safe to use the day after surgery. Soft foods are encouraged as soon as possible. Slurpees and milkshakes should be taken with a spoon rather than a straw.

If adenoidectomy is performed at the same setting, saline nasal drops are encouraged to help promote healing following surgery. Nose blowing should be avoided for 10 days.

The risk of bleeding following tonsillectomy ranges from 1-3% depending on which study one may read. Bleeding may occur at any time up to 14 days following tonsillectomy. Bleeding may be light and brief or may require admission and even return to the operating room. If bleeding lasts longer than 10 minutes the patient should go directly to the nearest emergency room and have them notify your surgeon. Since its inception, Southeast Michigan Ear Nose and Throat admission and bleeding rate is less than 1%.

Dehydration is extremely rare but in a child requires readmission for IV fluids. Monitoring a child’s urine output as well as their overall energy level is a good sign of their level of hydration. Encourage your child to drink fluids throughout the days following surgery.

Patients are prescribed antibiotics and pain medications following surgery. Prescribed medications should be used as directed. Overuse of pain medicines may cause constipation and may result in nausea and even fever after several days of use and should be alternated with non-narcotic pain medications such as regular Tylenol.

Tonsillectomy has excellent success rates (>99%) and when indicated relieves the patient of numerous throat infections and / or difficulties with sleep such as snoring and sleep apnea. It may be performed in conjunction with uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) in adult patients with sleep apnea. It may also be required in the setting of certain types of cancer (tonsil cancer, neck cancer with an unknown source, and lymphoma).

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call our office to speak to your surgeon or a member of our staff.