The tonsils are glands in the back of the throat that are a part of the lymphatic system. Healthy tonsils help trap bacteria. But when they become infected, enlarged, or diseased, the tonsils can do more harm than good. In these circumstances, doctors may recommend undergoing a tonsillectomy to alleviate symptoms and eradicate infection or disease. A tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure used to remove the tonsils in adults and children with chronic tonsil infections, disease of the tonsils, or enlarged tonsils that cause obstructed breathing and swallowing.
Did you know…
that the first recorded tonsillectomy occurred in 30 A.D. by a Roman surgeon? Today the procedure is one of the most frequently performed surgeries in pediatric medicine. Approximately 250,000 tonsillectomies are performed annually in the U.S. every year. Of those performed on children, approximately 80 percent are administered for the treatment of sleep apnea and 20 percent due to chronic infection.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I a candidate for a tonsillectomy?
Tonsillectomy is not right for everyone, but there are certain circumstances in which tonsil removal could benefit the patient. Contact our office to discuss the possibility of a tonsillectomy if you have the following symptoms:
- Recurring tonsillitis, usually 3 to 7 or episodes or more in the past year
- Bacterial infections of the tonsils that do not respond to antibiotics
- Tonsillar abcesses non-responsive to treatment
- Enlarged tonsils that interfere with breathing or swallowing
- Frequent bleeding of the tonsils or surrounding tissues
What should I expect during a tonsillectomy?
Although having your tonsils removed is a surgical procedure, the process is performed on an outpatient basis. You will be under general anesthesia to ensure you feel no pain or discomfort during the procedure. Your surgeon will cut the tonsils away from the throat wall in a process that usually takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. There are no external incisions and no visible scarring after the surgery. You will awaken in the recovery area, where you may be held for observation for several hours before going home.
How long is the recovery period after a tonsillectomy?
It is normal to experience some post-procedural discomfort in the days following surgery. This usually presents as a sore throat, though it may also occur in the jaw, neck or ears. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. You will need to drink plenty of fluids and maintain a soft foods diet in the initial days after surgery. Be sure to get plenty of rest and take all medications as prescribed. Most patients make a full recovery within 10 to 14 days.