Tonsillectomy: What You Need to know

4 Steps To Understanding Tonsillectomy

Tonsillectomy 150x150 Tonsillectomy: What You Need to know


If you are facing a tonsillectomy, you probably have many questions about the procedure. Whether you are 5 years old or 50 any surgery, even one to remove your tonsils, is a nerve-wracking experience. Tonsillectomies are routine procedures but they are serious and painful and should not be taken lightly.It is important to chat to your doctor or surgeon about the procedure. This will normally answer any questions you may have and will also help in easing any fears you may have.

Step One: Physician Recommendation of Tonsillectomy

First of all, this type of surgery is not generally a cosmetic procedure. It is recommended by a physician in special circumstances. Your doctor might recommend you have a tonsillectomy if you have repeated bouts of tonsillitis, foul odors and tastes from the tonsils, or strep throat over the course of a year that do not cease once antibiotics are introduced or when you have an abscess of the tonsils that does not respond to treatment or if you need a biopsy.

Step Two: Understanding Risks and Mortality Rates

Removing your tonsils are normally very safe procedures. The Internet Journal of Otorhinolaryngology estimates that the mortality rate of tonsillectomy procedures performed in the United States at one in 16,000. That is less than one half of one percent. Of course, there are still some risks including problems with the anesthesia, swelling of the tongue and mouth, dehydration and serious bleeding.

Step Three: The Surgery

There are many different ways to remove your tonsils. The most often used method is called, Cold Knife Dissection and it involves using a regular scalpel to remove the tonsils. Of course, modern medicine has introduced some new tools and resulting techniques including the Harmonic Scalpel which vibrates and helps to coagulate the blood while cutting out the tonsils, the carbon dioxide laser which removes the tonsils with the power of a laser, and the electrocautery which burns and cauterizes the tonsils.

Your surgeon may also opt for the microdebrider which basically shaves your tonsils off or the radio frequency ablation which uses radio frequency energy to remove the tonsil tissues. This method can leave scars but they usually disappear.

Step Four:  Tonsillectomy Post-Operative Care and Recovery

During recovery, you need to drink enough water to avoid dehydration. This is one of the biggest post-operative risks. This is a painful period because your throat is entering a stage of regrowth. During this phase you may notice swelling, bleeding and pain. Drinking liquids, eating soft foods like ice cream and introducing a humidifier to your room will help you to recover comfortably and quickly.

Removing tonsils are easy for children–they enjoy eating the post-surgery ice cream and are usually back to normal in four or five days. Adults, however, have a more difficult time recovering. After their tonsillectomy they enjoy their post-surgery ice cream for up to 20 days after surgery and they may experience post-surgical pain in their throats for a month.

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