What's it like: To have your tonsils removed

A tonsillectomy is a common procedure performed to remove the tonsils.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: March 17, 2013

What are the risk factors?

As with any surgery, there's a risk that you'll have a reaction to the anesthesia and also that you'll bleed during surgery.

After the surgery, some patients experience bleeding when their scabs start to fall off, and they sometimes have to be taken back to surgery. This usually isn't life threatening and isn't necessarily occurring because there's something wrong. Rather, the throat is always bathed in mucus, saliva and food, and that can sometimes cause complications while healing from a tonsillectomy.

In rare cases, bleeding from the surgery could go unnoticed. If you find yourself swallowing a lot, that could be a sign that the area where your tonsils were is bleeding.

What's the recovery time?

After surgery, you probably won't stay the night at the hospital. A full recovery can take up to two weeks. You'll likely need to stay home from school or work, and you'll need to rest.

Because of a risk of infection to the area that's healing, you should try to avoid being around people who are sick for the first week.

What's the follow-up?

Your doctor will likely want to see you shortly after the surgery to check on how you're healing. After the surgery, you should experience fewer throat infections.

Sources: Dr. Keith Clark, an otolaryngologist at the Oklahoma City Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic; the U.S. National Library of Medicine; the Mayo Clinic; American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, medicine and fitness, among other things. She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a news-editorial and broadcast production degree. Outside of work, she enjoys riding her bike, taking pictures of...
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