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Mike Dilkes is a leading ENT consultant and laser surgeon based in London. Mike has performed thousands of tonsillectomy procedures and is acknowledged as a leading authority on the use of laser treatment. 

Tonsillectomy Guide Contents

1 / The Basics

What are the tonsils?

What is tonsillectomy?

2 / Diagnosis

When might you need a tonsillectomy?

3 / Approach 

How do you get a tonsillectomy operation?

4 / The Procedure

Options for the Tonsillectomy Procedure

5 / Recovery

Post-operation recovery

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Part 5

Recovery from tonsillectomy.

Post operation: what to expect - intracapsular laser tonsillectomy

You will be discharged home when ready, usually around 4 hours postop. You aren't allowed to drive for 24 hours after a general anaesthetic, so someone will need to pick you up. It's fine to go home in a taxi or with someone on public transport. The nurse on the ward will give you a final check up and hand you a bag containing all of the postoperative medication you will need. Antibiotics are not required. That evening, eat normally, take your painkillers regularly. For the next 48 hours, stay mainly at home, reading, watching TV. (Don't go to the gym for a week!) After this time, you will be acclimatised to the soreness, your painkillers will be working well, speaking and eating will be fairly normal. At this point you can return to school/work, bearing in mind you might need to leave a little early etc. The soreness will last for 1 week. After that you will feel great, your symptoms of chronic sore throat, bad taste, bad breath, snoring etc should be considerably improved if not gone altogether.


Eating post tonsillectomy


There is no particular advice about this - we say eat whatever your favourite food is. Things get bad after tonsillectomy when people stop eating. Advice regarding ice cream, jelly, toast etc - you don’t need this with the intracapsular laser procedure - just eat - anything! Pain levels do tend to rise after a few days, then disappear by day 7. Just keep taking your painkillers and eat normally.


Why is tonsil pain worse at night?


Simple - we take our last painkillers at 9 o'clock, by 2 or 3 in the morning they wear off, but we are asleep so don't take any more. An hour or so later we wake up in pain, levels of painkillers have dropped right off, so although we then take some more, it takes a while for them to kick in. This can be avoided by setting an alarm clock for the time when painkillers are due.


Tonsillectomy risks


The main risk is bleeding, either during the operation, within 24 hours of the operation (primary haemorrhage) or with a week of the operation - secondary haemorrhage. Antibiotics have not been shown to help this risk. New techniques, such as intracapsular removal, have much lower rates of bleeding than traditional NHS style tonsillectomy.

The Mike Dilkes 


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