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Children who have suffered with several bouts of tonsillitis may be good candidates for a tonsillectomy. But having your tonsils out is not just for kids. Adults can find themselves in need of this fairly minor procedure.

The procedure is handled the same way for both children and adults, but there may be some slightly elevated concerns for risks and recovery for adults.


Why might an adult need his or her tonsils out?


Your tonsils play a role in the body’s immune defence. They work to trap germs that enter into your body through your nose or mouth. They can become inflamed or infected, and lead to a significant amount of discomfort. If you’ve ever been diagnosed with strep throat, you have likely had infected tonsils.

Experts at the Adelaide plastic surgery clinic One Face agree that frequent tonsil infections can lead to chronic health concerns. They can also result in breathing problems if the tonsils are consistently swollen and inflamed.

Chronic infections in the throat are the leading reason that adults may need their tonsils out. Adults who have had several sore throats and throat infections over the previous year or two are good candidates for this surgery.

Antibiotics may clear up the sore throat and the inflammation, but symptoms often come right back once the course of antibiotics has been completed.

Some of the other concerns that may lead to an adult needing a tonsillectomy include the following.

  • * Obstructive sleep apnoea. If an upper airway blockage is the result of swollen tonsils

  • * Bad breath that doesn’t ease up. A collection of pus and other debris in the tonsils can be responsible for this.

  • * Cancer. This is a rare occurrence and is likely as the result of cancer having spread from the neck or throat.


What to expect during the procedure?


You will be put under general anaesthesia for the procedure so that you’ll be comfortably asleep and free from discomfort during the surgery. The procedure typically takes less than an hour in cases that are not complicated. The tonsils will be removed with a scalpel. The adenoids may also be removed at the same time, as they can also be prone to infection.

Once you’re in recovery, you’ll be monitored in order to ensure that you are responding well after the procedure. If all goes well you’ll typically be sent home within a few short hours.

Complications post-surgery are rare but could include trouble breathing, irregular heart rate, vomiting and serious bleeding. In these instances, you’ll be kept overnight for further monitoring.


Is a tonsillectomy considered safe for adults?


While all surgeries do carry some risks with them, the tonsillectomy is considered to be a very safe and routine procedure for patients of all ages.

Some of the potential complications seen after surgery could include the following.

  • * Infection

  • * Dehydration

  • * Pain past the first week

  • * Excessive bleeding

  • * Pneumonia


Following the postoperative instructions sent home with you can help you to avoid these potential complications. Be sure to call your surgeon if you spike a fever or the pain is beyond what over the counter pain relievers can manage.


Recovery tips for the tonsillectomy


Children tend to recover much faster after a tonsillectomy. They generally only need a week to recover, while adults may need up to two weeks before they are feeling their best.

These tips can help you to heal better after surgery.

  • * Take the antibiotics and pain medications as they are prescribed.

  • * Drink plenty of clear fluids to keep hydrated.

  • * Drink smoothies or rely on soft foods in order to make sure you’re eating.

  • * Keep an eye out for signs of infection.



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