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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 

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

  1. I’m 18 days post-surgery for regrowth of tonsils, 1st removed at 7yrs old, and now at 60yrs old. The horror improves fractionally each day, but with growth of thrush and remaining scabs, it has been really awful. I’m healthy, I coach girls’ tennis, and I have a physically demanding job, which I have to return to tomorrow. I’ve lost 10lbs., remain dehydrated and very weak, but luckily am able to sleep through the night now. Living alone, with only a friend to look in on me once a day, this has been a nightmare. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone in similar circumstances. Can anyone offer a pep talk?

    1. Hi Jane,
      Sorry you’re having a rough time. You’ve just gone through a lot. Give yourself a little time. Soon this will all be behind you and your quality of life will be higher than before the surgery. It has been for me. Here’s something I wrote a while back. It might help:
      http://tonsillectomyrecovery.com/depression-after-tonsillectomy/

  2. I had my lingual tonsils removed three weeks ago and still have pain swallowing. I’m 63 years old. My dr. said I had the largest tonsil stones he had ever seen. At my follow up visit with the dr. last week, he said it looked like I might have yet another two weeks of healing to do. That would make it four weeks for me to heal. I have one week to go. I hope that’ll be the end of it.

    1. My goodness! Hang in there Kathy. I’d say it took me close to that long to feel normal again too. Even then my sense of taste was off for another couple months. I’m really glad I did it though!

  3. I only needed my right tonsil removed. I stopped with the hydrocodone at day 2 and stuck to IBs and Tylenol alternating every 3 or 4 hours. One thing I use that no one else mentions is a spray of Chloraseptic, non-alcohol, phenol based. I got the cherry flavor, sugar free. Directions say 1 squirt but I saturate with 5 or so spritzes, usually twice, and let it drain down the right side of my throat. That numbs it enough until the pain meds kick in. Now at day 6 and pain inching up. I’m planning on 2 weeks no work.

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