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What to Expect from Tonsil Surgery at the ENT

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Doctor and Child

Children are more likely to undergo tonsil surgery than adults. However, there are still valid reasons for adults to have their tonsils removed. If you’re worried about the procedure or don’t know what to expect from your ear, nose and throat surgeon, also known as an otolaryngologist (or ENT), consider the following guide to help understand the procedure and find it easier to cope with.

What happens during a tonsillectomy?

First, you’ll be informed about the various techniques that your ENT surgeon will use. There are many different ways to remove the tonsils and you may even be given a choice on the matter. However, the more likely scenario is that your ENT surgeon will pick the technique that is most suitable for your situation.

At the start of the surgery, your ENT surgeon will use a general anesthesia to put you to sleep. This will make the entire process painless. The surgery typically generally lasts between 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the skill of your surgeon and any potential complications that could arise.

To remove your tonsils, your ENT surgeon will pick from a number of different techniques. The most common technique is to use a scalpel to cut the tonsils off then immediately stop the bleeding. Another relatively common technique is to use diathermy, which is using heat that is generated through an electrical current. This destroys the tissues instead of just cutting them. Some surgeons also use lasers to cut the tonsils or even coblation which is using an electrically powered handpiece that burns tissues with low temperatures.

Each method has different advantages and these will typically be discussed beforehand. However, keep in mind that not every surgeon offers all of these methods and you may be limited with your choices. Thankfully, they are all similar in nature and come with similar risks and advantages.

Can I leave the hospital the same day?

Unless the procedure takes place late at night, you will be able to leave the same day. However, it’s always safer to have someone escort you back home in the event that post-surgery bleeding occurs.

What are the risks?

Tonsil surgery is relatively safe compared to other types of surgery. Every surgical operation contains some inherent risk. For tonsil surgery, that use is typically bleeding that can occur at any time or frequency after the operation. This usually only happens for up to two weeks, but if the bleeding is severe and happens often, then it could be a cause for concern and you may want to speak with your doctor.

What should I expect post-surgery?

You may feel a little nauseated after tonsil surgery, but this typically only happens as a result of the anesthesia. You may also expect a sore throat which can last several days and can get fairly severe. You may be given prescribed painkillers for this.

You may also experience pain in your ear, but this is normal due to the nerves that are connected to your throat and ear.