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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106 Comments on "Tonsillectomy Recovery Time"

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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

August 14, 2016 1:36 pm
I’m 28, female, UK. As far as I’m aware, my tonsils were cauterized and I had it done privately. It seems the post-op advice they give you over here is different to that in the US. I’ve been signed off work for 2 weeks and was told on the day of my surgery to eat as normal, drink as much as possible and avoid acidic foods. This is day 6 for me and these past 2 days have been agony. Days 1-4 went from bad to better with no pain or experience TOO notable. But I woke up yesterday (day 5) no longer able to eat without extreme pain in my jaw and ears which radiates round my head. I’m glad that I ate as normal days 1-4 because I’d be shrivelled up by now. I’ve had this really thick saliva for days as well which is horrid. Constantly want to spit it out but I know that I should be trying to swallow and keep my throat moist as much as possible. The mornings are the worst if I’ve slept with my mouth open (which I generally do) because my throat has subsequently dried out. I THINK my scabs have mostly fallen off by now because it feels different today. It’s still all white but more smooth and empty looking at the back of my throat. I’m hoping that by day 8 I will be over the worst of it and notice a massive difference. I’ve been out of the house only once in 6 days and done as little as possible. Yes, it’s extremely depressing and disorienting to be cooped up inside and be almost totally inactive, however I think it’s worth it to avoid infection or unnecessary stress to the wounds (I’m EXTREMELY paranoid about bleeding). One thing I will say that I have not noticed anyone else trying – which I believe has helped to soothe me at times – is eating a couple of small teaspoons of a good, pure honey. Not a cheap blend, but a good pure one from an apiary (these are easily accessible at any standard supermarket). Honey is known, and has been used for centuries, to be a great healing product and has been used for open wounds externally on the body with great effects. I thought that if it works externally, it can work in my throat as well. It has definitely been soothing, at least. I suffered with tonsillitis since the age of 7 and had it twice in quick succession in May of this year. The first episode ended in a stay overnight in hospital with quinsy, which I never wanted to get again. That’s why I went to get reffered to have them taken out. At this stage, I’m wondering why on earth I did it, but I know it will be worth it in the long term. No more loss of earnings, no more ruined dates, no more worrying about being laid up in bed… Read more »
August 8, 2016 11:45 am

I am on day 6 of my recovery now and I see no changes.
When I woke up from my surgery I played around in my mouth (While still feeling the effects of Morphine (I wouldn’t dare to do that now)) and I managed to eat a whole box of chicken nuggets from macdonalds about 30 minutes after being released.
The first night and the second day were excruciating, the pain is unbearable and still is, but I was on 60mg of codeine and 1g of Paracetamol every 4 hours accompanied with an anaesthetic throat spray. I ran out of codeine on day 5 and had to resort to over the counter Codeine which gives me 1g of paracetamol and a measly 16mg of Codeine (Co-Codamol), plus the fact that it is effervescent meaning it has a high salt content means taking the actual Co-Codamol burns my throat to pieces. One noticeable change from the day of surgery to now is that the pain is different, it’s more intense, but different. It is now more of a bruising pain rather than a constant searing burn pain. No blood yet thank god, and I am eating nothing but soup and baby food pouches with loads of iced water, but I’ve even had to cut the chicken soup out today because the Sodium seems to be getting to me now. Sleeping has been horrible too, wish I had money or a supporting family to get a humidifier! The best thing to do I find when sleeping is to sleep upright with your neck in a relaxed position and set an alarm for every 4 hours to drink a pint of ice water and take pain meds, other than that sleep isn’t your friend at the moment.

I am 18, male and had my surgery done in the UK in a private hospital.