Tonsillectomy Recovery Time


How long does it take to recover after having your tonsils taken out?

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 

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108 Comments on "Tonsillectomy Recovery Time"

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Today 5:48 am

I am now on day 8 post op, having had my tonsillectomy done in a private hospital in Australia.
I have been eating normally since day 1 (as instructed by Specialist) & drinking at least 2 litres of water a day. Eating is still a struggle but worth the pain as i feel much stronger & generally quite well. I was only taking Panadol for pain until day 6 & have taken nothing since.
As a mother i have been doing the school run, cooking, cleaning as normal since day 2.
The worst part for me has been lack of sleep due to waking regularly to drink. And loosing my voice completely for the first 5 days – it has returned now but still croaky & sore if i talk too much!
Planning to be back to work on Monday (day 10).
All in all the pain & suffering will be worth it to never have to suffer tonsillitis as regularly as i have done.
Hope this helps!

October 20, 2016 8:51 am

I had my tonsils removed 7 days ago, and I can honestly say that this has been the most painful experience in my life. I’m a 24 year old woman, and I feel like I’m losing my mind. I’ve barely gotten any sleep, I’m nauseous, hungry, and just tired of being in bed. It hurts to eat, so I mostly just sip water instead. However, my pain medication makes me sick to my stomach on occasion, due to it being empty, and I’ll vomit. Not fun. None of this is fun. I wouldn’t wish this even on my worst enemy!

August 15, 2016 2:43 pm

So my biggest question is are you able to talk? If I run a one person office where its just me if I limit my talking is there anyway I can only miss about 5 days of work, I am 51 years old and I am terrified, that I will not be able to do this surgery as it could cost me my job being out of work that long