Tonsillectomy (Adult)

This page will provide you with information about having a tonsillectomy. For further details, please speak to your consultant.

What is a tonsillectomy?

A tonsillectomy is a procedure to remove the tonsils, which form a group of lymphoid tissues at the rear of your throat – much like the glands in your neck. They help to fight infection from germs that enter our mouths when we breathe or swallow.

Tonsillitis occurs if the tonsils get infected (see Figure 1), resulting in pain, fever and problems swallowing, as well as causing the individual to feel unwell.

Figure 1 Tonsillitis

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What are the alternatives to surgery?

While children may benefit from a long course of antibiotics to break the pattern of infection, for adults this option is less effective – particularly if they have had glandular fever. This means that surgery is advised as the only reliable way to prevent frequently occurring tonsillitis.

What will happen during the operation?

The surgeon will remove the tonsils in either one of three ways:

  • Peeling or cutting it away from the attaching muscle underneath.
  • Applying heat to the area to remove the tonsils and cauterise the area.
  • Using radio-frequency energy in order to dissolve the tonsils.

Once the tonsils have been removed, any additional bleeding will be stopped by the consultant. The procedure takes approximately 30 minutes and will be carried out under general anaesthetic

Risks and complications

Any risks or complications will be discussed in advance of your treatment with your expert consultant.


After most procedures patients are able to return home the following day. However, you will need to keep away from work or school, as well as groups of people for a period of two weeks to avoid catching a throat infection whilst you’re still healing. The pain could also last this length of time, although it will be most evident the morning after the operation.


Tonsillitis can cause numerous problems, most notably pain and discomfort. A tonsillectomy will completely remove the tonsils to prevent tonsillitis from returning.


EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.


Tonsillectomy (Adult) Consultants