A tonsillectomy is a minor surgical procedure performed under general anesthetic in the hospital to remove the tonsils. Tonsillectomy recovery is usually quick and involves the use of analgesia, eating softer, well-chewed food for a couple of days, and rest to allow healing. After a tonsillectomy, patients may stay a day or two in the hospital, depending on their recovery. It is often advised that a person stays home for up to two weeks after surgery, to minimize exposure to infections while healing.
Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils, which are found in the back of the throat. Many people, especially in childhood, suffer from repeat infections of tonsillitis that require numerous courses of antibiotics each year and loss of school or work days. In these cases, tonsillectomy is often recommended, as the tonsils are not essential to the functioning of the body. Recovery may take slightly longer in adults than children.
The operation itself is a relatively quick procedure, done under general anesthetic. Tonsillectomy recovery may be influenced by numerous factors, including response to general anesthetic, overall health, exposure to infection, and pain threshold. Analgesics will be given and may be needed for a couple of days after the operation. In some cases, prophylactic antibiotics may be prescribed.
Post-tonsillectomy, the throat may appear white. The healing occurs under this layer, and it will slowly disappear over time. Some people may also experience slight earache post-surgery, which is completely normal. Should this persist or worsen, or a fever develops, medical attention should be sought. As with any operation, there is a small risk of complications post-surgery, including bleeding. If this happens, urgent medical attention is necessary.
During tonsillectomy recovery, hard foods such as toast or potato chips should be avoided, but it is not necessary to have only liquids. Soft solids that are well-chewed should be eaten and should in fact help to speed up the healing of the throat. Strongly acidic drinks, such as citrus fruit juices may sting and are therefore best avoided during tonsillectomy recovery. Good dental hygiene with regular flossing and tooth brushing should be maintained to prevent infection.
Driving should be avoided for a couple of days post-tonsillectomy, and until any residual effects of the anesthetic have completely disappeared. Some painkillers may cause drowsiness, and if they do, driving or operating heavy machinery should be avoided. Full tonsillectomy recovery usually takes ten days to two weeks.