Tonsillectomy Methods

Laser Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy

What You Need to Know about Laser Tonsillectomy

Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy surgery often evokes fear in many people, sometimes removing tonsils and adenoids is inevitable. Frequent tonsillitis, tonsil stones, snoring, or enlarged tonsils causing respiratory problems are common reasons to get them removed. It’s quite common to also remove the adenoids at the same time. Here are the four most common tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy methods used today.

Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy Surgery Methods

Laser Tonsillectomy or Harmonic Scalpel

An advanced piece of equipment that uses ultrasonic energy at a high rate, the tonsils are cut and the tissues tied at the same time. This laser tonsillectomy instrument allows for more precision. One advantage is that the damage to surrounding tissue is minimal with laser tonsillectomy surgery.

Here’s an interesting Video from the television program, The Doctors.  It’s about a different approach to tonsillectomy surgery. (Laser Tonsillectomy:


Cold Knife Dissection

The first of these tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy methods involves removing the tonsils with a scalpel. Although it is the most common among them and most preferred by ear, nose, and throat specialists, more bleeding during the procedure occurs with this than other tonsillectomy and adenoidectoy methods. However, there is minimal post-operative bleeding and less patient discomfort after the surgery.

Electrocautery Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy Surgery

The second of the tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy methods uses electrical energy to burn the tonsil tissue. While the reduction of bleeding is advantageous, the high heat temperatures can damage surrounding tissue, and may cause more discomfort after the surgery.

Radio frequency Ablation

During this tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy procedure, probes inserted in the tonsil transfer radio frequency energy to the tonsil tissue. Because this is a treatment and not a full removal, the patient does not undergo full anesthesia; instead, local anesthesia or light sedation is performed. The treatment causes deliberate tonsil scarring, which causes the tonsil to decrease in size. Advantages include a quick recovery and immediate return to activities.

Tonsillectomy methods vary greatly in tools and post-operative recovery. The decision on which method to use is based on what kind of surgery is being done–partial or whole tonsillectomy, as well as how much pain can be tolerated and the risk of post-operative bleeding. Recovery often lasts between one-and-a-half to three weeks in length. Your throat will be sore for about two weeks, and you will not want to swallow anything for a few days. It it is imperative that you drink plenty of fluids to keep hydrated. Cold foods and liquids can help reduce throat inflammation. With advisement from your doctor, you both can problem-solve which of these tonsillectomy methods will work for you.


Did you have laser tonsillectomy?  What are your thoughts on it?


Laser tonsillectomy

Laser tonsillectomy


Tonsillectomy Recovery Store

31 thoughts on “Tonsillectomy Methods”

  1. I’m a 60 year who has suffered from sore throats, tonsil stones, sleep disturbance and trouble swallowing for most of my life. I plucked up the courage and had laser surgery on my tonsils yesterday. I was extremely nervous, not knowing what to expect, but I can honestly say my fears were unfounded. I had mild pain last night, which has subsided to pain upon swallowing only today. As my tonsils were so large I might have to return for another session. My surgeon is highly respected within this field (I live in the UK) so I will take his advise as to whether I proceed with a follow up. Judging by the reduction in my tonsils already, I think it will be pretty straightforward. This simple yet effective procedure has the added bonus of being done under a local anesthetic.

    1. Hi Grace can you tell me the name of the surgeon? We are looking at getting my son’s op in London by Mr Dilkes. How are you feeling now? Did you get the full general anaesthetic and tonsillectomy or the resurfacing? Many thanks

      1. Hi my daughter had laser treatment on Friday carried out by Mr Dilkes. Surgery went very well and care was excellent, there is some conflicting arguments about recovery and whether this surgery is better, we decided to go for it as our other daughter had a traditional tonsillectomy a few years ago and it was simply horrendous so decided this could be no worse. She was incredibly well yesterday but we have been warned that it would get worse before better! She is 20. Good luck

        1. Hi, I am scheduled in with Mr Dilkes for January for the laser tonsillectomy. Can you let me know how painful the surgery was and what the recovery time was please? (I am 29 years old) – thanks!

  2. I’m 50 and had my tonsils out 3 weeks ago. What worked for me was mango fruit bars. I went through several boxes. The Whole Foods store brand. Baked potatoes, mac and cheese (made my recipe and froze small squares), butternut squash soup (again, made and froze in advance). Lots of ice water all the time. I can’t tell you how worth it it was to have them out. Keep on top of the pain meds and hydrate. You’ll recover before you know it. Also, smoothies with milk, ice cream and bananas. I opened capsules of multi-vitamins into the smoothies to get more nutrients.
    What didn’t work-fruit juice (burned going down)

  3. Im due to have a tonsillectomy in 3 months time, im 41 years. Can anyone give me some advice on what to eat post op

  4. I’m making an appt next week w/a new doctor and their office uses thermal fusion (ENTceps) for tonsil removal. I’m wondering if anyone on this site has had their tonsils removed using this method and what their experience was was with it.
    I’m 50 and have a long history with strep and sinus infections. Have had both over the last several months and am currently on my seventh course of antibiotics in as many months. I’m so ready to get rid of my tonsils.
    And thank you to the creator of this site. I am very appreciative of this resource you’ve created. Having knowledge lessens my stress.

  5. I am a 22 year old female that had reoccuring strep throat and tonsilitis ever since I was little. Yesterday 10/21 I had my tonsils removed and that same evening I was in sever pain and felt like my tonsils were so swollen that it hurts so very bad to even swallow. Its now 1 in the morning and i took my 12:45 dose of oxycodone and hour early and increased the dose from 5mg to 7.5mg hoping ut would help and I have had little relief. What does anyone who had this procedure done think I should do? It scares me because everything I am readig says day 1 and 2 were a breeze and im not even 24 hrs post op and im in some SERIOUS pain.

  6. At the ENT right now waiting to see the Doc. Should have come here years ago but have been too afraid. I am 41 years old and will hopefully hear all my options for a possible to tonsilectomy today. I have 2-3 episodes of tonsillitis and strep every year and they are always inflamed. I have been concerned about all the down time and pain. I want them out but hope I can stomach the procedure and post op if this happens. I have my list for the doc including options, pain management and contact with him if I need him after the procedure.
    A friend of ours works in the office so I hope that will mean better communication.
    My plan is for two weeks off work.
    Wish me luck for my consult!!!

  7. Hi. I had my tonsils out 7 days ago and the pain is just as bad, if not worse. I tried to reduce my Roxicet dosage because I have no more refills left. However, it is the only thing (plus ICE) that really works. It’s really hard being on the receiving end of getting nursing care and worrying about possible complications. It is 4:30 am and I’ve been up for an hour. Crazy schedule. Time knows no pain.

  8. I’m having my tonsils out in a week. I’m 46 and was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I think this is a great site for support and wanted to share just in case someone else has this issue. Upon finding out about the RA, I did some online research and found that there is a newer study that shows a link between chronic childhood tonsilitis and later RA in adulthood. There was a man in England w/same issue that had a tonsilectomy and after 6 mos was tested and all symptoms of RA had disappeared. After reading I wanted the surgery–I began to notice that at night my tonsils would swell and as they swelled, my joints would swell and stiffen. The bigger my tonsils swelled—the more my joints swelled, the more pain I had and the stiffer I got. It is so weird. My Rheumatologist agrees that this will probably be the thing I need. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been in so much pain from the RA the past 7 years I could care less how much this surgery and healing process is going to hurt. However, I appreciate the tips on here. God Bless!

  9. My 3 year old grandson had his tonsils and adnoids out on Tuesday, March 12,2013. His recovery is normal, but his voice is now unexpectly high and nasel. I read the nasel quality is to be expected, and should disappear in about 2-3 weeks, but there is no mention of him sounding like a Munchin on helium! Has anybody else experienced this? Please give me feedback if so! Thanks!

  10. After suffering from chronic tonsillitis/tonsil stones since the age of 6 (20 now), I’m finally having my tonsils and adenoids removed tomorrow! (3/13) My Surgeon told me he will be using a robotic apparatus called the Da Vinci to extract my tonsils and adenoids to minimize damage to the surrounding muscle tissue. Afterwards, they will be applying a surgical grade liquid bandage to the back of my throat to promote undisturbed skin growth. I haven’t seen any cases of this kind of tonsillectomy method on this site yet. I was wondering if anybody else has had their tonsils/adenoids removed via Da Vinci and if so, what was your operation/recovery like? Hopefully, because this method is “minimally intrusive” and other healing-friendly precautions are in place, my recovery time won’t be as lengthy or unpleasant. 🙂

    1. I was wondering if anyone has too. I believe that’s the method my doctor said hes going to use. Has anyone messaged you and told you how that process was? Thanks so much Greg

  11. I am 9 days out and feeling SO much better. I just wonder if anyone is having asymmetrical healing? I just feel like I had two different surgeries. One side of my throat is perfect, the other side has had significant ear pain, feels full of mucus and has a large lump in it? This sound right??

    1. Stacy, just went to the ENT yesterday for my 2 week follow up appt and mentioned the asymmetrical healing I had as a curiosity. He said it was very common to have asymmetrical healing. Every day brings a little less feeling of obstruction. Just have to keep taking it a day at a time. I found gargling with salt water (1/2 tsp to 1 cup of warm water) to be helpful, as well as rigorously chewing gum. Supposedly the worse part for many at my stage is yawning, and I can say that I believe all the gum chewing I did from early on helped exercise the muscles in my jaw. I’m 51 yrs old and feel as though the many tips I found on this site as well as other research I did online helped give me a toolbox of options to deal with the marathon of pain. So glad to be on the other side of this. Good luck with your continuing recovery!

  12. I’m now 8 months post-op and feel amazing. I won’t say it has changed my life, but I haven’t had a sore throat and my bad breath has gone. I hit huge pain around day 5-11 and it was super intense. I was lucky enough to have someone to look after me, bring me ice packs for my neck, prepare a variety of foods to try and get down me. Without this support (nursing really) I would have been miserable…well more so. One thing that I did so was to get three different types of pain killers that could be taken together and wouldn’t overlap. I had my alarm set religiously to take the meds regardless of how I felt. I found dissoluble was OK for a while but eventually the time it took to drink the volume of liquid made it more arduous. I had a breakthrough though when we tried a new way of delivering the pain meds….we put three large tablespoons of honey into a large mug, poured over very hot water and mixed well…. this was used to take tablets and because it was a slightly thicker liquid the honey helped ease down the pills and I actually felt no pain at all. I would recommend trying it if you’re at that stage and are going nuts.

  13. Hi Everyone. I just came upon this site today as I was looking for information about tonsil stones. I have mixed feelings about finding this site. 1) I am ecstatic I finally found out what those gross things are in my throat. 2) I am happy to know there is a support group out there. 3) I fear for what I may end up having to do and am at a loss emotionally.

    I am a single mother to a 3-year old, and I’m going on 40. Last year, I had streph throat for about 2.5 months straight (6 rounds of antiobiotics) and at around the same time, I was getting these stone things. I went to see the ENT and suggested removing my tonsils as an option to help cure the streph throat (stones was an unknown issue at that time), but I did not go through with it because I don’t have any help with my son. I am scared out of my mind as to the pain I would be experiencing from the recovery process, but more scared that I’ll compromise the car of my child because I’ll be in pain. This is such a dilemma for me, but I’m tired of getting sore throats all the time, and now tonsil stones. Any word of advice? Thank you.

    1. On November 6th, I had a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy at 43 years old. I am 10 days out post op and everyday is still agonizing. My experience closely followed much of the majority posted here, Day one was a cakewalk, day two a little sore, day 3 was painful, day 4-10 WHAM!!!! Can’t swallow without curling up into fetal position, each day I am able to get less and less fluids down. I do manage to painfully eat a plain child burger and bun usually once a day for the protein, but little else. I am allergic to pain meds, so only had Tylenol for unbearable moments. On the eve of 9th day, I had a bleed. Used ice to manage the bleeding and it eventually stopped. I don’t know if having both at the same time made this any worse… But I just hope it’s really worth it in the end. This has been a very challenging and trying time for me, exhausting me physically and emotionally.

      1. Update – I ended up in the ER that same day with more post op bleeding. The doctors decided to do a re-cauterizing. I was admitted and kept on fluids for 24 hours as I had also severely dehydrated. I went home after and followed doctors orders to keep activity to a minimum and keep hydrated. 5 days later… A third post op bleed occurred. This one was worse than the previous bleeds. I was admitted to the hospital again and kept on strict bed rest for three days, not even allowed to raise my head. Also, I was NPO for the first 24 hours. Turned out to be a surfaced blood vessel that would open up easily. I’m 33 days out from my surgery… And I still feel like there’s something in my throat all the time and my throat feels tight, like its closing up. At this point, I’m wondering if I made a good decision in having this surgery.

  14. I really need some advice! 🙁 I’m a 29 year old female from Australia who has little girl who is turning 3 in a couple of months. After basically taking antibiotics every 2-3 weeks for the last 10 months due to getting sick (mainly it was tonsillitis) I finally decided enough was enough and asked my GP to refer me to an ENT specialist. As far back as I can remember, I have been sick far too frequently to the point where I have been let go two jobs, twice. Plus, I hate not being able to look after my daughter every couple of weeks. It’s depressing! I think my poor husband is exhausted too. The ENT specialist told me I had chronic tonsillitis, and the only way to stop getting sick so frequently is to have a tonsillectomy. But after reading and hearing so many horror stories, I don’t know if I can handle it. I hate pain! Also, I feel really nauseous and terrible on pain killers even when I’ve eaten a whole meal. My stomach just doesn’t tolerate them well. So how am I going to minimize pain while not feeling dreadful and most likely vomiting from pain killers? Which tonsillectomy method is more effective in terms of reducing recovery time and pain? Any advice I would really appreciate at the moment. I feel like I’m stuck in a no win situation. I don’t want to stay like this, and I don’t want a traumatizing and excruciating tonsillectomy experience… Please help 🙁

    1. Hiya,

      I’ve just had mine out by snare method and basically cut out by the surgeon. He did the same on a 3 year old the same day and she was bouncing around before I was. The area was quarterised after by something cd but as I was knocked out I dont know what. My only advice is that lasers although quicker in operation time hurt more after so speak to the consultant about options.

      Hope this helps

    2. I don’t know if you had your tonsillectomy yet. I just had mine operated on Jan. 3rd. My Dr. prescribed to me a newer pain medicine called Nucynta. I took it with yogurt or applesauce and bread (bread dipped into the applesauce to moisten it) I can not take vicodin or percocet but I could take this pain medicine. The first two days saturate yourself with fluids.and the days following. I am chewing a lot of gum. I bought ensure with high protein and made that into a slushy, I also am drinking a lot of pedialyte.
      Hope this is all helpful. Everyone I talked to so far are really glad they had this operation. It has made their lives so much better. Good Luck!

  15. On July 23,2012 I had a Tonsillectomy (Electrocautery Tonsillectomy Method) the procedule itself went very well. I had no bleeding. I was nauseous right after the surgery and i was nauseous for two weeks. I was taking Oxycodone and Tylenol with Codeine, along with other meds for nausea which made me sleepy. I was feeling ok for the first 3 days then after that, i had excrutiating pain in my ears. My throat was ok, hurts only when i swallow saliva. I was unable to eat anything for the first 5 days, after that i liked warm broth, i didn’t care for anything cold at all. I also had my heating pad, which really helped with the ear aches. I had no appetite for 10 days, i lost 10 lbs, which was awesome 🙂 as long as i took my meds on time, i was ok, However i was so nauseous the whole 2 weeks, i was mesirable from that, i couldn’t move around, if i did, i wanted to vomit and it hurt to vomit. On day 10, i stopped taking Oxycodone and Tylenol with Codeine and switched to 800 MG Motrin and i felt so much better, nauseous went away, it was such a good feeling. I am on my 3rd week now, still taking Motrin, throat still sore when i swallow saliva or water. I am eating soft food still and no appetite yet and everything taste bitter. Just went back to work yesterday. I do feel alot better, i’m glad i had the procedure. I am 40 yrs old.

  16. I’m a British patient, I had mine out 2 days ago using ‘coblation’ (less heat than a laser I was told). the evening after surgery I felt great, no issues, ate a sandwich, was swallowing fine, felt fab. The next day much the same, eating well, drinking, no pain. Today, this morning I started getting a little sore,, which is normal now that I can finally see what’s happened back there 🙂 I guess I’m facing about 2 weeks of recovery and gradual pain increase and decrease. I was told that day 5 post op could be the worst and then that it should get better so I guess I may not be sitting emailing in a couple of days as comfortably as I am now. I was glad to find this website, it was nice to see pictures that looked like my throat. I will read on.

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