Tonsillectomy Recovery Time | How long does it take?


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 


  1. This site has been extremely helpful in aiding me before my procedure and while I am recovering. Today is day 3 post surgery and I am feeling nauseated even though I take an anti-nausea med with my pain medication. I now know after all the reading that it is due to all of the mucus that is collecting in the back of my throat. It is AWFUL to attempt to cough or get the mucus to move. I have often awaken due to me choking or having the feeling that I was going to choke because of the mucus. So, I will cut back on the sugary, sllushees I have been so dependant on getting me through…..move to water with lots of crushed ice and try to be neural to avoid vommiting at all cost. My ears are hurting far worse today than they were yesterday and I am hoping that this too will subside as the dy goes forths. I do keep them covered because just a whisp of cool air inside was making a very noticiable change.

  2. How often would anyone advise to drink water? I had mine out today and think it would be a good idea to set my alarm during the night to drink water? Any suggestions?

  3. I am on day 6 post-op; still unable to open my mouth fully or even enough to allow a spoon to enter it. While I was aware that everyone has a different rate of recovery, I find it hard to believe that I am going to be ready to return to work on Monday!
    I am a 52 yr old white female; I also am diagnosed with “Mixed Connective Tissue Disease” which in my case encompasses RA, Sjogren’s, Raynaud’s and Scleraderma. Common sense tells me that with these additional health issues are playing a part in my recovery, I’m wondering if extra recovery time (beyond the typical10 days) should be requested?
    I work in a stressful healthcare facility that at times is very fast paced. The physicians are demanding and cause the staff a good bit of anxiety. I’m not sure that I am ready to jump right back into that. Any comments or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    1. Maureen-I am on day four and also have auto immune health concerns that I believe will lengthen my recovery time. My ENT expects 14+ days due to RA and Lupus. I would suggest talking to your doc again to get more time off work for recovery.

  4. Here’s a question to the Doc: The smaller the tonsils (less swollen), the quicker and less painfull the recovery?

  5. I am a 21 y/o female scheduled for my tonsillectomy in 6 days, and have done a lot of research on how to improve my recovery.

    I have cleared my schedule and plan on really relaxing and allowing my body to heal after surgery.

    11 days after my surgery, I have secured a fantastic opportunity down in London with a prestigious barristers’ chambers. As a budding barrister, this will be an invaluable experience which I do NOT want to miss.

    I understand average recovery time is 10 days, so I hope to be well enough to attend the meetings. My question is, what can I do to really speed up my recovery?

    I want to be fighting fit and able to give a good account of myself, and the last thing I want to do is cancel (although if I am seriously ill, I will obviously have no other choice but to do so). Is there any steps I can take to help a speedy recovery? I do not care if they are painful or cause discomfort, I’m willing to do whatever is necessary so I don’t miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime!

    Looking forward to your answers!

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