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.

Check out our new tonsillectomy recovery video- Caution: Not always pretty

Do yourself a favor: Get Netflix or Amazon Prime – here’s a link for 30 day free trial!

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 

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

  1. 30 years old here. Had my tonsils out Thursday April 19, 2018. I was fine for the most part day 1 through day 5. Expected pain, couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink, all normal and healing well. Well day 5 I tried to eat a bit of soft cold food to help my energy levels. By that night I had a fever. Day 6 through 8 I dealt with the fever, saw the doctor early and everything was great but back to the liquid cold diet. Here I am on day 10 and I’m pretty sure I’m in the clear, fingers crossed. Worst day of pain for me was day 7, day 3 coming in second. Best advice, sleep and drink. My pain is always worse at night so I save the nights for a pain pill. After day 7 it progressively gets better. So I’m looking forward to day 11 tomorrow. I’m so grateful I had no complications or anything unexpected happen. Still not sure why I had the fever but it’s gone now.

  2. I’m 18 years old, female, and my tonsillectomy recovery has been some of the most traumatic stuff of my life
    I thought I was in for a speedy recovery because I was able to drink liquids a lot sooner than they said I was, I was extremely careful of what I ate and even stopped taking my narcotics early because the pain was manageable and I hated how itchy, emotional, and nauseas my pain meds made me.
    But on day 6 of the recovery, ibuprofen and water went down the wrong pipe leading to a very violent spit take that ripped off some of my scabs. It bled and I was terrified but the bleeding stopped and I sipped cold water and I seemed to be fine, so we forgot it.
    Then over the second week of recovery I had occasional bleeding fits from the scabs in the way back of my throat that hadn’t come off yet. I went to my ENT for my post-op appointment during this and he said that I looked fine, and as long as bleeding stopped within 5 minutes then it was okay and I had no worries. He also said my throat looked good and I’d be back to normal in 2-3 days. This was on recovery day 8.
    On recovery day 10, I began to bleed and it didn’t stop. It soon clotted and choked/gagged me, and the blood I swallowed made me sick and I puked a clot up the size of a golf ball. So I ended up in the ER crying and shaking and they ended up putting me back under and re-cauterizing both sides on the back of my throat as well as taking out the blood clots. I had to stay in the hospital overnight for monitoring, but I didn’t feel too bad the next morning.
    However it is now recovery day 13 (3 days after my traumatic ER visit) and I am back to being in so much pain that I’d start the narcotics up if it weren’t for how much I hated the way it makes me feel. I’m taking ibuprofen in safe but regular doses and the pain is intense enough to travel to my ears and jaw. Additionally I had to return to eating only the softest things rather than progressing my diet.
    What’s most upsetting about it is the fact that I was extremely responsible with my recovery and very careful, there is no rhyme or reason for my recovery to be this god awful but here I am, depressed in bed and probably having to spend a 3rd week out of college which you can imagine to be awfully stressful.
    I stay hydrated and I eat so ibuprofen doesn’t upset my stomach and I did everything I’m supposed to, yet I’m still in excruciating pain.
    Even the doctor who re-cauterized me, which luckily enough was the one who did the surgery in the first place, was completely unsure as to why this happened. He said it was highly unusual because in most cases of bleeding like this, it’s one vessel that had burst or been irritated but in my case it was almost all of my vessels for no reason, creating a “general ooze” as he put it.
    On top of that, thanks to surgery tools and what I’m assuming was a surgery done in haste to stop my bleeding, my mouth is a disaster zone. I have a huge cut on my tongue and it makes it hard to eat or even talk because it’s swollen and makes me lisp or even accidentally bite it. I also have a cut on my lip and just general scrapes and bumps from both the original procedure and the one done in the ER.
    I’m so jealous of everyone with a better recovery than me, I just want to get a full night’s sleep without waking up in the middle because my throat hurts so much I want to sob; but of course sobbing isnt an option because that would hurt too much.
    And I’ve been craving tacos since the damn day of my surgery (my soft diet leaves me tragically devoid of salt).
    So I suppose, if you ever think you’re recovery is going poorly or that you’ll never come out; at least you’re not me!!
    I just wanted to put my story out because I needed to rant about how bad it’s been for me because I’ve had not many outlets for this frustration!

  3. I have a child who have them she is 5yers old so is it safe to remove them now or mst I Wait for her to be an adult

    1. Remove them when she’s young.

  4. I had my tonsils removed on Tuesday, today is Sunday(day5/6) and I’m actually amazed at how good I’ve been feeling. In general the pain is nothing compared to the worst case of tonsillitis I had not long before they came out. I’m taking a single endone at night and panadol during the day when needed, plus antibiotics and anti inflammatory perscribed by the doctor(not sure if it’s for my lungs or throat or both). I find the absolute worst pain is when I yawn or hiccup it’s like all the sores re-tear or something – youchies.
    With all this said I was stuck in hospital after the operation for four days due to consolidation on my lungs and a slight collapse from the operation(very uncommon side effect the dr said), so I was on IV antibiotics and a nebuliser for that time. Maybe that has something to do with the healing process? I also started eating normal food (if you call hospital food normal) the day after the operation, not Much just a little bit of a toast and cereal, it hurt but I think it helped!
    This morning I thought it would be a good idea to go and do some grocery shopping (I’m single and live alone) but that was a horrible disaster that ended in tears, not due to pain but a general feeling of all over sickness. So I guess the key is to find a great Netflix series and get comfy in bed until your body repairs itself!
    Good luck and fingers crossed like me you’re aren’t in a world of pain!!!

  5. I’m almost 18 Years old and on day 6 from having my tonsils removed. Honestly I feel great, one of my scabs fell off on day 3 and the other fell off of on day 5 but oh my i was so sore from it. I’m starting to taking the medicine they prescribed me every 5-6 hours since the pain isn’t really there but sometimes swallowing would make my ears hurt. Talking doesn’t really hurt, only sometimes but I limit myself on talking. Now I’m wondering if I’m actually healing faster than others or my high pain tolerance is that good but I do still eat soft foods and I’m pretty sure my mom is scared for me to try other things to eat but I’m feeling better day by day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.