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.

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Laser tonsillectomy
Laser tonsillectomy


    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.

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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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