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Tonsillectomies are relatively common surgical procedures to remove the tonsils. They are mostly carried out on children but they may be performed on adults as well. The recovery process after a tonsillectomy can be associated with some discomfort due to the basic nature of the surgical process and the anatomic location of the tonsils.

Also, even though, a tonsillectomy can be considered a routine surgery, it does carry the risk of some complications like any other surgical procedure.

Recovery after tonsillectomy

Patients can experience some pain and soreness in the throat after the surgery has been done. The pain may be referred to the ears, the neck, or even the jaw. Plenty of fluids and rest are advised after a tonsillectomy has been done.

Pain medication and maybe some antibiotics may be prescribed to the patients after a tonsillectomy.

The doctor may also put some diet restrictions for the recovery period like avoiding spicy, crunchy, or hard food for a few days after the surgery. There should be plenty of fluid intake to keep hydrated and keep the throat moist.

Something cold like an ice cream which is also soft and non-spicy in texture can be eaten comfortably by the patient. Warm soups and broths are also a good food option during the recovery period.

Complications after tonsillectomy

  • Bleeding

A failure of the wound to heal properly after a tonsillectomy can lead to bleeding from the site of surgery. Smoking after a tonsillectomy has also been found to almost double the chances of bleeding during the recovery phase. There are very well documented effects of smoking on slowing down wound healing so it should be avoided at all costs immediately after surgery.

Patients should ideally consult their surgeon and confirm that their wound has healed before starting to smoke again.

  • Infection

The occurrence of infection during the post-operative period can lead to pain, swelling, discomfort, pus formation, delayed wound healing, and a difficulty in eating. Depending on the severity of the infection and the ability of the patient to take in food, hospitalization, and antibiotics via the intervenous route may be necessary.

  • Surgical complications

Complications may occur during the procedure that leads to the occurrence of an ear infection or persistent drainage from the nose, or even a sinus infection. Sometimes, an additional surgery may need to be performed to correct this problem.

Also, since a tonsillectomy is performed under general anesthesia, the complications associated with the procedure are also a possibility.

  • Change in voice

Sometimes a change in voice may occur after a tonsillectomy which can be disconcerting to the patient. This is a rare occurrence and usually indicates some communication with the nasal cavity.


The possibility of some serious complications is the reason why tonsillectomy is no longer considered to be the first line of treatment for inflamed tonsils. It is only when the infections are recurrent and persistent that a tonsillectomy is advised for children or adults.

The possibility of complications during the recovery process is also markedly increased in smokers as compared to non-smokers.

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