How Tonsillectomy Works

How Tonsillectomy Works

by Kassandra Silva (SU)

If you’re experiencing chronic or recurring tonsil infections (at least seven episodes in a year) or sleep apnea caused by tonsil hypertrophy (enlarged tonsils), your primary care physician will likely refer you to an ENT doctor for a tonsillectomy to address the problem altogether.

Tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of your tonsils— the two oval-shaped, fleshy pads located at each side of your throat that serve as your body’s first line of defense against pathogens that enter your mouth.

The information provided below will give you a basic understanding of the important aspects of the procedure.


Once your ENT doctor determines that you’re fit for the surgery, they will provide you with preoperative instructions to ensure you’re adequately prepared for it. These instructions will likely be about the following:

o   Medications - Your doctor may have you skip taking certain medications or make dosage adjustments several days prior to your surgery.

o   Fasting- You need to fast after midnight prior to your scheduled surgery.

o   Transportation arrangements- You need to have someone drive you home after the procedure.

o   Work arrangements- Your doctor will likely recommend that you take off from work and limit your activity for up to two weeks to minimize your risk of complications.

The Tonsillectomy Procedure

Your care team will administer anesthesia to get you ready for your surgery. Once you’re asleep, your doctor will intubate you nasally, to allow for more space and facilitate the operative work during the procedure. Your ENT doctor will then put a mouth gag to keep your mouth open. 

There are a number of techniques available for tonsillectomy. Depending on your ENT doctor’s preferred technique, they may use a microdebrider (a device that shaves the tissue away), laser, scalpel, or heated instrument to remove your tonsils.

After the procedure, you’ll be taken to a recovery room, where your care team will monitor your vital signs.


Tonsillectomy is usually an outpatient procedure, which means you can go home within the same day. However, if you have a medical condition or developed complications, your ENT doctor may require you to stay overnight.

Common issues that you may experience after a tonsillectomy include mild fever; pain in your ears, jaw, or neck; mild to moderate pain in your throat; bad breath; and feeling as though something is stuck in your throat. These should subside in one to two weeks. If not, inform your doctor.

Additionally, you will notice scabs on the surgical sites after your procedure. These are an inevitable part of the healing process and are expected to fall off within five to ten days.

You may get a go-ahead from your ENT doctor to get back to work when you’ve already resumed your normal diet and stopped taking your pain medications. 

Tonsillectomy in Austin and Lakeway, TX

At Snoring Austin, our board-certified otolaryngologists are experts in tonsillectomies and many other surgical procedures for a wide range of conditions affecting the ears, nose, and throat. We take great pleasure in providing you with useful information, so you can make the wisest decisions about your health care.

Call our friendly staff at (512) 339-4040 (Austin office) or (512) 682-4798 (Lakeway office); or fill out this form to schedule an appointment with one of our ENT doctors.