What to Expect from Tonsillectomy

Prior to Surgery

  • You may be asked to stop giving your child certain medicines 10 days in advance of the surgery as advised by the doctor.
  • Ask your the doctor which medications your child should still take on the day of the surgery.
  • Discuss any possible bleeding disorders or other medical conditions that your child may have.
  • Let your doctor know if your child develops a cold, flu, fever or other illness prior to surgery. This may require that the procedure be rescheduled.

On the Day of the Surgery

  • Your child will not be able to drink or eat anything for six to eight hours prior to surgery.
  • Give your child any medications the doctor approved with a small sip of water.
  • Arrive at the hospital at the given time.

After Surgery

Your child will most likely be able to go home after recovering for several hours.

  • Please limit any activities – such as running and playing – for the first couple of days.
  • Your child may be slightly nauseated from the anesthesia. Some children may vomit once or twice after surgery. This is normal. Your child’s doctor may prescribe something medication to reduce nausea.
  • Give your child a soft, cool diet to start and avoid any hot foods for the first several days to allow for healing.
  • Your child’s throat will be sore for several days. Sometimes an ice pack on the neck may help with swelling and pain. He or she may have to take pain medication to help reduce the discomfort.
  • Remember to prop your child’s head on two or three pillows to help reduce swelling and to make him/her more comfortable.
  • Do not allow visitors for the first few days so that your child remains calm and is not exposed to outside germs.

Recovery: what to expect in the next few weeks

Most children recover within two weeks but should follow doctor’s orders about activities. It’s important that your child stay calm to reduce the risk of bleeding. Also, ensure that he or she drinks a lot of fluids to avoid dehydration. Children are at most risk of bleeding after one week as this is when the scabs start to fall off. Remember to keep them calm to make sure that there is no excessive bleeding.

Tonsillectomy patients have pain off and on for the first few weeks, and it’s crucial to monitor the types of food and drinks available to them. Do not give your child No spicy, hot, hard or crunchy foods until the throat has fully healed. Encourage your child to eat frozen popsicles, gelatin, ice cream, pudding, mashed potatoes and yogurt. These will be soothing to the throat.


Tonsillectomy Q&A

What does the procedure involve?

Under general anesthesia, the ENT will perform the surgery through the child’s mouth. There are no external incisions made during the procedure. The tonsils and adenoids are cauterized with a specialized tool that completely removes both and seals the wound. The entire procedure take about 60 minutes, and most children go home the same day.

How many incisions are made?

The tonsils and adenoids are cauterized. No cuts are actually made.

How long does my child stay in the hospital?

This is normally an outpatient procedure, and your child will most likely go home the same day.

What is the recovery time?

Your child will recover within two weeks; however, they must avoid certain activities and eat a modified diet to ensure that the surgical site heals properly. There is a risk for bleeding, so it is important that patients remain calm, eat a cool, soft diet and not lift heavy objects.