What to Expect for a Tonsillectomy Surgery

by Stuart

Let’s first discuss the definition of a tonsillectomy surgery. It’s when one’s tonsils are surgically removed. Plain and simple for its definition. However, the consideration and choice aren’t as easy as the simplistic terminology in removing them.

Before we delve into the subject let’s first discuss what are tonsils are and what they do for our bodies. The tonsils are our bodies filtration devices. Tonsils help to protect us against infections. Those fleshy sacs at the back of our throats filter what our bodies come into contact with and store inside our tonsils. When they enlarge or swell, we have a rather nasty reaction due to the overwhelming levels taken in and the swelling of our tonsils are like an alarm. In most cases it can easily be cared for with antibiotics which not only help our tonsils but help ourselves for whatever reason the filtration system had given us the warning for in the first place.

However, there are times when our bodies own filtration device can turn against us and be very uncomfortable or irritating. In a few cases harmful and maybe even fatal. If a person has numerous and frequent attacks of sore throats and ear infections, bad nightly breathing problems it may be helpful to have a tonsillectomy. There are other serious reactions such as difficulty breathing or swallowing, hearing problems and if they generally disrupt your normal functions in a more sever way which would also point to surgery. But before deciding fully if a surgery is right for you or not, make careful steps to make an appointment with an ear throat and nose doctor who can better determine the situation. Tonsillectomy surgeries are done far to unnecessarily and the doctor is the best one to help you with a course of action.

I myself have had a tonsillectomy surgery, and want to help others who are curious or going to undergo such a surgery with information and first hand experiences of what to look forward to, what to expect and what to do and not to do after your surgery.

My throat problems were chronic since teenaged years, tonsillitis coming frequently and in horrible bouts. I have had enlarged tonsils normally to begin with, so when they swelled it was near disaster. There were doctor appointments, steroid shots and antibiotics just to ensure I could breathe safely. When year after year came and went, the bouts of tonsillitis came closer together and worsened with each attack. It was suggested by my family physician to consult an ear nose and throat specialist for discussing the possibility of removal.

Once an appointment was made, and the doctor examined me and consulted with me it was agreed that the surgery would be most beneficial to me and perhaps end up saving me from a fatal attack the next time. To help you have a better idea of what you might encounter when seeing a specialist, here are a few things which were said done and asked to help prepare you for this step. The specialist will examine your throat and tonsils and have you relate your concerns and problems. He may or will ask you how frequently over a certain number of years you’ve had this problem, so try to get a ballpark idea in mind before hand. Then if surgery is what your doctor feels is right he will discuss a little about it. What you will expect (which we will get to later on) and the risks involved. Then an appointment will be set up with your family doctor for a blood test to check your blood and how quickly it clots and you will have a date set up for your actual surgery.

When all is said and done, you will arrive at the destined facility to have your surgery. You will need a driver with you, no if ands or buts because of the general anesthesia. You will be called back into a room, de-robe and get prepared. They will take your blood pressure, fit you with a heart monitor, cap and booties and hook you up to an I.V. You will then be wheeled into the operating room and put under. It’s completely pain-free and you don’t wake up until far after it’s completed. The surgery varies but can take up to a couple hours.

When you awake, it is possible you will wake with a tube inserted through your nose as I did which helps breathing until you regain consciousness, so do not be alarmed. They remove it once you begin to stir. As you will still be quite groggy from the anesthesia, this is a mild discomfort. You will be observed for a period of time, up to an hour or two until you are able to swallow and move around. The doctor will/should see you before discharge (as it’s out-patient a majority of the time) and check on your throat once again. This care is crucial to make sure your throat isn’t bleeding and is doing all right. Expect a black discoloration from the surgery. Surgery is either done by being cut or burned away. The latter being more common depending on the placement, size and situation of your tonsils. This causes the blackened back of the throat.

Expect a variety of colors for your throat to change and do not panic. It is natural. It will/may go from black, to yellow to eventually white which shows the healing of tissue. Now people vary, as does their level of tolerance for pain. For some people it can be minimal and trivial while for others it could be a horribly painful experience. Your ear nose and throat specialist will also let on this information in the scheduled appointment before your surgery.

Now here are some things that you may want to know in case you or someone you know plan on getting a tonsillectomy surgery. Recovery typically takes about two weeks though it’s not uncommon for it to take longer. Some people haven’t recovered for four or more weeks. You are expected to feel relief about a week or so after your surgery, with improvement by day ten. So don’t be afraid something is wrong if you feel you are healing slowly. The doctors give you a pamphlet of what to expect, procedures and other information that you can go by.

If your surgery site should happen to bleed, you are instructed to immediately drink ice water. It doesn’t matter if it hurts, you must drink it to help numb the tissue and halt the bleeding. If it continues to bleed head straight to the closest emergency room but DO NOT PANIC. They stress that.

You are also instructed to drink, swallow and talk as much as humanly possible no matter the pain. This keeps your throat wet and limber where as tight and dry and constricted. It will heal more slowly if you do that and be far more painful. If you follow their directions it helps speed the healing process if you can just fight through the discomfort and pain.

Food and drink will be a new experience, and it’s best to take it slow. You don’t need to attempt and eat right away, that can come when you start to heal or feel that you are up to SOFT foods like yogurt or soups. Ice or heat may soothe your pained throat, but it varies from person to person. They generally recommend ice. Ice water is the easiest and most beneficial thing you can drink. You must stay clear of acidic drinks and juices like orange juice or pineapple juice as they will horribly burn your throat. Same with tomatoes and other acidic beverages or foods.

Sleep is vital and it helps our bodies to recover faster, too. It is possible also that your uvula may swell and make swallowing a little uncomfortable but this is natural. Especially if your adenoids are removed along with your tonsils. They are located above your soft pallet at the back of your throat. You should also be advised that during your recovery it is best to keep away from crowds or anyone who may be ill for you will be highly susceptible to infection during this time. So in closing you should be well informed from not only your family doctor, your throat specialist, and their instructions with now a little extra insight to back you up on what to expect. Having this surgery near immediately absolves the problems for which you had the surgery done in the first place for, and in my case was well worth it! But discuss your feelings to your doctor and know your risks. It also doesn’t hurt to do some research yourself to be well informed.


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