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 

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

  1. I’m 46yrs old and had my tonsillectomy on May 2nd (1 1/2 months almost) and am still feeling the effects a bit much from my surgery. Mostly its my soft palate area that feels extremely inflamed or feel like it has dropped because everytime I swallow I can feel it, which is so horribly uncomfortable & sometimes even painful at the same time. I asked my ENT about this the last time I visited him a week ago and he said the skin at the roof of my mouth has stretched due to my tonsils being removed and he showed me clearly how my uvula has pulled up much higher as a result of my upper mouth skin stretching (I plainly asked him earlier that visit did he remove my uvula because it was so short now and he said no and showed me in a mirror why my uvula was so short now as a result of the stretched skin at the top of my mouth). So now it looks like I have a nub of a uvula there, and the top of my mouth where my soft palate is feels inflamed & extremely uncomfortable on a daily, and makes it extremely difficult for me to eat even soft foods, so I’m still on eggs and mushed potatoes diet, and high calorie count ice cream since I can’t eat much and am either still losing weight or finding it hard to hold the 127 lbs I’m now at. Every other day or so my right side where my tonsil once was & my throat still causes me pain from time to time on top of this horrible soft palate issue I’m wrestling with on a daily. My ENT said all of this stuff I’m still experiencing is normal for patients my age and that it sometimes takes longer to heal for ppl my age, but says it will get better over time. I, like a few others, have fallen into a depression as a result of waking up like this every day, thinking I’m now just stuck like this and have a hard time seeing any light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve searched around to see if anyone else experiences these issues with their soft palate area & swallowing difficulty. I try to keep my faith up by listening to Dr. Charles Stanley and reading the Bible but its really really hard dealing with this on a daily. I really hope no one has to experience this like I am.

  2. 24 year-old female typing this as I finish up day 2 post-op. (Surgery was morning of May 31)/ I barely had any pain after surgery, maybe a 2/10. I was shocked, because I expected much worse. That same evening the pain increased a bit, but not too badly. Day two (today) I was fine all day, and over the past two hours or so the pain has gotten to be much worse. I’m absolutely terrified of the dreaded day 4. I’m hoping for a speedy recovery. I’ve noticed I see okay during the day and much worse at night. Trying to force fluids and rest! Good luck to everyone else healing!

    1. Hi I’m Day 7 post op, how are you now? I feel the same get ok during day and during night after 3ish I’m in severe agony.

  3. I am 19 years old and on day 9 post op. This is probably the worst pain I have experienced. My doctor told me this would be a terrible recovery and he was absolutely right! I was able to eat ice cream, apple sauce, and eggs on days 5-7 but starting today I can’t even drink a sip of water due to really bad burning at the back of my throat. Every time I try to drink or eat I feel the burning. I was told that the burning should get better soon, but that has been the toughest part.

  4. I had my tonsillectomy on May 18. At end of week one the pain was manageable. Today, May 28, the pain is worse! My situation was further complicated by my ENT doing cauterization of my sinus turbonates at the same time. So, I can’t breathe out of my nose, only through my mouth, further drying out my throat and causing pain. My post-op visit is May 31. Hopefully the next three days will show improvement.

  5. My surgery was last Monday evening 21st may And I’m now on Sunday 27th may so 6 days later or 7 if you include the day of the op.
    Yesterday was absolutely awful and today is not much better. Prior to that i was managing ok. I’m dreading this pain continues for the next few days. It really is horrendous. Everyone who had a tonsillectomy kept warning me and I kept thinking how cruel however now I realise they were trying to prepare me. Cried and threw up with the pain yesterday. Today I’m staying in bed.
    Good luck peeps. Will up date in a day or two when I start feeling better!!!

    1. 21 year old adult male here, had mine out on 21st too, so day 7 now. I’m fed up of the pain, some of the scabs have started to fall off but everything just stings to drink or eat. It’s just a contstant burning pain, and when I look at my throat it still feels like there’s miles to go it’s so spirit crushing. I just want to pain to stop and to have some normal food. I’ve barely eaten anything the entire week. I’m hoping that in 1 weeks time I will be fully healed.

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