Tonsillectomy Recovery Time | How long does it take?


How long does it take to recover after tonsillectomy?

Tonsillectomy recovery time is unique for each patient. The recovery timeline for children is much shorter than for adults, with seemingly less pain. My own eight year old son was back to his old self in less than a week after his tonsils taken out. This may have fanned the flames of my unreasonable expectations of my own  recovery time as an adult. His was fairly typical of a child his age. Children’s bodies heal faster than adults’ do.

Tonsillectomy Recovery Time

What to expect after tonsil surgery

The timeline for recovery for an adult is a different story. Age matters. In fact, it appears that the older an adult is at the time of their tonsillectomy, the longer the recovery is, in general. Based on my own adult tonsillectomy recovery, and the stories of thousands of my readers, I’d put the average adult tonsillectomy recovery time at approximately 10.43 days. Yes, I’m that good!
Humor aside, ten days seems to be pretty typical. I added the .43 because so many people, myself included, thought they had it licked and went back to work around day ten, only to find they weren’t quite ready. As scabs slough off in second week of recovery, many adults experience a bit of a pain relapse, just as they thought they were almost recovered. This is a really tough period for many. They’ve spent almost two weeks with minimal sleep, minimal nourishment, minimal activity, and lots of pain medicine. It can be downright depressing for adults recovering in this second week.

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I do hear from many adults whose recovery times are closer to a week – perhaps due to my good advice, perhaps due to genetics. It’s hard to say why some adults’ recovery timelines are shorter, and their experiences less traumatic. There are also cases that drag out further. If you’re one of a small minority that requires re-cauterization for bleeding, or don’t take the proper precautions, (many of these are outlined here and in my book), your tonsillectomy recovery time may be as much as three or four weeks. I want to make an important point here- one that I cannot overemphasis: Stay hydrated! Keep drinking fluids! Dehydration is the worst enemy of the tonsillectomy patient.

My advice: ask your employer, your family, your friends, and the rest of the world to give you two weeks for your adult tonsillectomy. You may surprise them, hopefully for the better.

tonsillectomy recovery timeRecovery is unique to each individual- sure.  We know that recovery time for adults is longer, and maybe harder, than for children. I remember my own son bouncing back in less than a week! My own experience taught me that ten days off from a job that required lots of talking was a bit light.  I generally advise two weeks.  As I’ve said, most employers will let you come back early.  That’s easier than asking for more time after the fact. I’ve read the accounts of thousands of tonsillectomy patients- most of them adults. I’ve learned that the time required varies. I wonder though, how many tonsillectomy patients never really post about their experience.
Are you one of those quiet ones lying in the weeds? I’d like to get a better feel for the average adult tonsillectomy recovery time. Please take a moment and share your own experience in recovering from tonsillectomy surgery. You can help us all!I’ve put together a collection of items that I think would be helpful, if not essential, to making tonsillectomy recovery a little more pleasant. Check out the
Tonsillectomy General Store.

-Greg Tooke 

256 thoughts on “Tonsillectomy Recovery Time | How long does it take?”

  1. 19yo female, day ten of recovery and the pain is starting to ease up but still frustratingly sore, days 5-8 were absolute hell, at one point breaking down in tears/ drooling while my boyfriend rushed to get me endone (OxyContin/ percocet). This is all from someone who generally handles pain quite well – having my severed thumb sewn back up without anaesthetic was preferable to the second week of tonsillectomy recovery.

  2. I’m 30yrs female, day 7 post op and been on higher painkillers than what the hospital gave me after visiting my GP and I feel absolutely shocking. My ears are in such agony I wondering why did I get this done. Is there anything anyone can advise to help ease the pain? Ibuprofen, codiene do not seem to be doing the trick at all.

  3. I’m a 43 year old female on day 13 post op. I am still in pain both throat and ear. I’m taking regular painkillers also. Not all of my scabs have come off yet. Is this normal? Don’t want to bother the gp unless necessary. Also due back at work on Monday as a teacher. Use my voice all day!! Is this wise?

  4. I am 28 years old, currently on day 13 post op and still experiencing unbearable pain in my throat and ear ache so painful, it feels like my ears are going to burst . I have been taking my pain meds as prescribed by my ENT specialist, however they do not last long and the pain comes back worse, even though it’s not time to take the next set of pain meds. Is this normal?

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