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A tonsillectomy is surgery to remove the tonsils. The adenoids may or may not be removed at the same time. This topic is about surgery to remove the tonsils, not the adenoids.
For children, a general anesthetic is always used. It makes the child sleep during the surgery. Adults may need only a local anesthetic to numb the throat.
Tonsillectomy is often done as an outpatient surgery. But some people may need to stay overnight in the hospital.
A person can expect to have a very sore throat after surgery. It may last for several days. This may affect the sound and volume of the voice. It can make it harder to eat and drink. The person may also have bad breath for a few days after surgery. There is a very small risk of serious bleeding after surgery.
A tonsillectomy may be done when:
Large tonsils are not a reason to have a tonsillectomy unless they are causing problems.
Children who have their tonsils removed for repeated throat infections may have fewer infections for a few years after surgery. But over time, many children who do not have surgery also have fewer throat infections.
Adults who have their tonsils removed after repeated throat infections don't get as many new infections as adults who don't have the surgery.
Some bleeding is a normal risk after a tonsillectomy. This is common, especially when the healed scab over the cut area falls off.
Less common or rare risks include:
Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Charles M. Myer III MD - Otolaryngology
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