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Tonsillectomy is a procedure that was performed with a much higher frequency a few decades ago than it is now. The most prevalent opinion is that the risks associated with tonsillectomy outweigh the benefits in most cases and so tonsillectomy is now used as a last resort.

Tonsillectomy refers to the removal of the tonsils and is performed under general anesthesia. The procedure itself is not time-consuming and takes around 20 to 40 minutes and is thus an outpatient procedure.

The patient will be kept in recovery for a couple of hours for observation until the delayed effects of the general anesthesia have passed and then be discharged to go home.

What Happens After Tonsillectomy?

A recovery time of a week to ten days is considered normal after a tonsillectomy procedure. Children who are younger are able to better tolerate this period than slightly older ones. Common complaints during this period include some amount of pain and discomfort, difficulty in eating, intolerance to warm food, a referred pain in the ear, stuffy nose and even bad breath.

The doctor usually recommends that the child takes in a lot of fluids after the surgery.  There is no food restriction that is put in place, however, it is just easier to drink liquids during the healing process. Sodas or other drinks which are carbonated should be avoided as should citrus drinks be.


A low-grade fever after tonsillectomy is a common occurrence and only requires symptomatic treatment. The fever should be easily manageable with over the counter medication. This is again a situation where intake of fluids will help.


Parents should expect that their children will have to miss about a week of school. Strenuous physical activity should be avoided at home and for a few days after returning to school as well. Parents should also take care to not schedule any travel plans for their children for at least two weeks after the surgery.


A scab will form at the site where the tonsils are removed. This is nothing unnatural and is, in fact, the normal process of healing. They are usually whitish in appearance and are thick. They are coated with a layer of bacteria from the oral cavity and cause the bad breath often noted post surgery.

These scabs usually fall away on their own after five to seven days. They may fall away by breaking into smaller pieces or may fall away as a single piece. Some children may complain of pain after the scab falls out while others may not feel a thing.

Some amount of bleeding is common at the site from where the scab falls off and this can be another source of irritation since it drips down into the throat.


The doctor will schedule a follow-up visit to assess the healing after a week or ten days and another one 4 to 6 weeks after the procedure. These are important to ensure that the healing has taken place uneventfully and without any complications.

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