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 

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

  1. I’m 20 years old & i had my tonsils removed 8 days ago & i thought i was finally having a turn around but the pain today has really tender in my throat. I drink tons of water & try really hard to eat even with the pain, but I’m just wondering when is this gonna be over. It’s awful!!

    1. Hi Shelly! For me days 7 & 8 were the worst. Things improved day 9. Backslid a little on 10. Back to work on day 11

  2. I’m 34 years old and on day7after op. I feel miserable I have ran out of pain meds. I survive on pain medication, cantr eat anything. hungry very hungery.

  3. Im on day 10 now and still utterly miserable. First thing in the morning is always the worst in terms of pain as ive been sleeping with my mouth open and its as dry as the Gobi Desert down there. Im 52 years old and i got them out in the hope it might help with my chronic snoring and sleep apnea….. before the op i was willing to try ANYTHING to help matters but now im having second thoughts….. Ive used up all the pain relief that the hospital gave me to take home with and just want it all to go away.

  4. I’m 46 years old and had surgery 20 days ago and still not 100%. scabs still in back of throat and the more I talk the more my throat hurts. Not to mention minimal bleeding if I try to hack up something due to allergies or dust from work. Still working on getting my voice back to what is was prior to needing this procedure. I’m told my healing is normal but was originally told 2-3 weeks for my age.

  5. I’m on day 16 and my throat still hurts. I get these really sharp stabbing pains on the left side of my throat. Does anyone else get those pains?

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