When is Tonsil Surgery Necessary? Exploring Adult Tonsillectomy

When is Tonsil Surgery Necessary Exploring Adult Tonsillectomy

The tonsils are small masses of lymphatic tissue located on both sides of the throat, just behind the tongue. As part of the immune system, the tonsils help trap and destroy bacteria and viruses entering through the mouth or nose. While tonsils serve an important protective function in children, for some adults they can become a recurring source of infection and discomfort. This article explores when tonsil removal surgery, also known as a tonsillectomy, may be necessary for adults and what patients can expect from the procedure.

Reasons for Tonsil Removal Surgery in Adults

Just like in children, the most common reason an adult would require a tonsillectomy is due to recurring tonsillitis or throat infections. Some signs that tonsil surgery may be needed include:

  • Frequent sore throats: Having more than 3-5 sore throats in a year caused by tonsillitis bacteria like streptococcus.
  • Chronic or persistent tonsillitis: Inflamed tonsils for months at a time that do not respond to antibiotics or other treatments.
  • Tonsil stones: Calcified debris that can become trapped in the crypts (pockets) of the tonsils, causing bad breath.
  • Sleep apnea: Enlarged tonsils may partially block the airway during sleep, disrupting breathing. A tonsillectomy may help treat mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.

In these situations, tonsil removal through a tonsillectomy aims to prevent future infections and provide long-term relief from symptoms. An ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor or tonsil surgeon in Ahmedabad can examine the tonsils and recommend if surgery is necessary based on a patient’s history and severity of issues.

Tonsillectomy Procedure for Adults

A tonsillectomy is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, meaning patients can go home the same day. After confirming surgery dates, here is what adults can expect on the day of the procedure:

  • Anaesthesia: General anaesthesia is used to put the patient into a deep sleep for the duration of the surgery. This prevents pain and discomfort.
  • Incisions: Using surgical instruments like a scalpel or laser, the ENT surgeon makes incisions within the tonsillar fossae (spaces) on both sides of the throat.
  • Tonsil removal: The tonsils are gently dissected from the muscle tissue and removed. Modern techniques aim to minimise blood loss.
  • Cauterization: Any small blood vessels are sealed with electrocautery to stop bleeding.
  • Inspection: The surgeon inspects for any remaining debris or tissue before closing the incisions.
  • Recovery: Patients are monitored as they emerge from anaesthesia and can go home once fully awake and able to eat/drink normally.

The tonsil removal surgery itself takes 30-60 minutes to complete. Most adults are able to resume light activities within a week or so once the initial pain and swelling subside. A follow-up with the ENT doctor is scheduled to check healing.

Preparing for Adult Tonsillectomy Surgery

To ensure the best possible surgical outcome and recovery, it’s important for adults to properly prepare. Some key steps include:

  • Inform your doctor: Discuss all medications, supplements, and medical conditions for evaluation of risks.
  • Prepare ice packs: Freeze water in bags or containers for post-op swelling relief.
  • Stock up on soft foods: Yoghourts, soups, and puddings for initial diet after surgery.
  • Arrange transportation: You cannot drive after anaesthesia for 24 hours due to impaired coordination.
  • Inform family: Let them know about the surgery date and recovery needs like assistance.

Being well-rested, hydrated and following all pre-op instructions will help ensure a smooth procedure experience for adults undergoing tonsil removal surgery. Don’t hesitate to ask the ENT doctor any questions.

What to Expect After Adult Tonsillectomy Surgery

Recovery from tonsillectomy in adults can take 1-2 weeks as the throat heals. Some common experiences patients may have include:

  • Pain: Throat pain is moderate for 5-7 days, managed with prescription painkillers. Over-the-counter medications may not suffice.
  • Foul taste/breath: Due to blood and tissue, this improves as healing occurs over 10-14 days.
  • Swelling: Significant swelling of the cheeks, tongue, and throat may occur initially and gradually subside. Applying ice helps.
  • Nausea/vomiting: This may happen due to pain medications but usually stops within a few days.
  • Dehydration risk: Fluids are important for healing but may cause discomfort initially. Sip slowly.
  • Diet changes: Soft, cool foods are best at first like yoghurt and ice cream. Gradually advance as tolerated.
  • Fatigue: Rest is needed as the body focuses energy on recovery. Light activity as tolerated.
  • Fever: Low-grade fever below 100.4°F is common due to the body fighting infection.

Most adults are able to return to a regular diet and resume light activities within 10-14 days after tonsil removal surgery. It’s important to take all prescribed medications and follow post-op care instructions from your ENT doctor.

When to Seek Medical Help After Tonsillectomy

While discomfort is expected in the recovery period, certain signs after tonsil removal surgery may indicate a complication. Don’t hesitate to contact your ENT doctor or visit the emergency department if experiencing:

  • Profuse bleeding from the mouth or throat
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Pain that increases or isn’t relieved by medication
  • Fever over 101°F that persists beyond a few days
  • Bad breath or foul taste that doesn’t improve after 2 weeks
  • Pus-like drainage from the surgical site
  • Dehydration makes the adult feel dizzy or lightheaded

Prompt treatment may be needed for potential issues like haemorrhage, infection or slow healing. The ENT doctor will examine and manage any complications to ensure proper recovery.

Long-Term Benefits of Adult Tonsillectomy

For adults who undergo tonsil removal surgery due to recurring infections or other issues, the procedure often provides lasting relief. Some potential long-term benefits include:

  • Reduction in sore throats and strep infections by 60-80%
  • Improved sleep quality if tonsils were obstructing airways
  • Resolution of bad breath from tonsil stone formation
  • Relief from chronic tonsillitis flare-ups
  • Prevention of serious complications like peritonsillar abscess
  • Improved overall sense of well-being without ongoing throat problems

While tonsil removal surgery is surgery with recovery time, for adults it can mean the end of dealing with bothersome and sometimes painful tonsil issues on a regular basis. Most are satisfied with the results and quality of life improvement post-procedure.


In conclusion, tonsil surgery may be recommended for adults struggling with frequent sore throats, tonsillitis flare-ups, sleep apnea, or other tonsil-related problems that don’t improve with treatment. After examining the case, an ENT specialist can determine if removal of the tonsils through an outpatient tonsillectomy is necessary. With proper pre-op preparation and post-op care, most adults recover well from the procedure and gain relief from chronic tonsillitis. Don’t hesitate to consult an experienced ENT doctor in Ahmedabad for an evaluation.

If you are also looking for an experienced ENT doctor you can contact Dr. Simple Bhadania as she is known to be the front-runner for ENT Surgery. Dr. Simple is a highly skilled ENT surgeon in Ahmedabad. She has a strong command over the anatomy and physiology of the head and neck region, which is reflected in her excellent clinical acumen and surgical abilities. Dr. Simple goes above and beyond to address any concerns and sees each patient through till full recovery. This dedication and willingness to go the extra mile is quite rare.