Recovering from a Tonsillectomy
Tonsillectomies are routine procedures, performed regularly on both children and adults by ENTs across Australia. If you or a family member are soon to undergo a tonsillectomy, it’s important that you’re aware of what the recovery process will entail. Having performed many of these procedures, allow Dr Ted Smith of Smith ENT to detail how you should plan your recovery from a tonsillectomy.
Immediately after the procedure
As you will have been put under general anaesthetic for the procedure, you will awaken in a recovery area where medical staff will be monitoring your vitals – heartrate, blood pressure, etc. – to ensure that you’re not experiencing any adverse reactions. Patients who undergo adenoidectomy are released on the same day, but we advise that you arrange for a friend or relative to pick you up and take you home. The recovery process for an adenotonsillectomy (the additional removal of tonsils) is much the same, however you will likely need to stay in hospital overnight.
Most people experience pain for up to two weeks after the operation. Many patients don’t realize that there is a delay to the worst pain– most patients report the peak of pain occurring between day 5 and day 10 post-op. You might also experience referred ear pain, a common symptom during this 5-10 day period. Your doctor will advise you on the best pain relief methods during this period, usually accompanied by antibiotics.
It is not recommended that you participate in exercise for several weeks post-op. This restriction extends to heavy physical activity in general, and traveling should be seriously limited – if not postponed. You will also likely require two weeks off work or study to allow for optimal recovery.
You will be required for a follow-up appointment 2-3 weeks after the procedure. During this appointment, Smith will ensure that the recovery is going well, that no infection has occurred, and that your pain levels are manageable. Your doctor will advise you on the signs to watch out for in the few weeks after your procedure and before your follow-up that might require you to come in earlier, but it is common for the tonsillectomy wound to be swollen, yellow, and sloughy in appearance.