A boy enjoys a popsicle on a warm sunny day.


Tonsillectomies for treating infected and enlarged tonsils

Tonsils are soft masses of tissue located in the lower back of your throat. You probably don’t even notice them until they cause a health problem. Tonsil-related health problems are usually due to chronic infections, recurrent infections or enlargement that causes airway obstruction, such as snoring or sleep apnea. They may also include more serious concerns, like cancer.

Infected tonsils are painful and can swell, causing swallowing and breathing problems. Enlarged tonsils can become a problem when they become big enough to interfere with your breathing while you sleep.

A tonsillectomy is a surgery that our doctors may recommend to treat these health problems. In this surgery, the tonsils are removed to prevent recurring infections, swallowing problems and issues with breathing and sleeping. Typically, your body can function just fine without your tonsils.

In children, we may perform an adenoidectomy at the same time as the tonsillectomy. An adenoidectomy is a procedure to remove a child’s adenoid glands, small lumps of tissues located on the roof of their mouth, near the tonsils.

Our board-certified otolaryngologists (also known as ear, nose and throat doctors) work with you to make sure a tonsillectomy, and adenectomy if necessary, fits with the best course of treatment for you or your child’s unique needs.

The purpose of a tonsillectomy, with or without an adenoidectomy

Enlarged tonsils and adenoids can block the throat and back of the nose, causing a number of health problems. We may recommend a tonsillectomy to treat conditions like:

  • Breathing problems
  • Chronic tonsil infections
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Peritonsillar abscess (a buildup of pus behind the tonsils)
  • Snoring or sleep problems, particularly in children
  • Tonsil cancer

Tonsil and adenoid removal surgery

Tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies are among the most commonly performed surgeries in the United States. These surgeries are relatively short procedures, during which our surgeons will remove the tonsils and/or adenoids while you’re under anesthesia.

After the surgery is finished, you’ll be taken to a recovery room where you’ll rest and wake up from the anesthesia.

Recover after tonsillectomy

Tonsillectomy recovery takes about two weeks. For children getting this type of surgery, they will be able to return to school in about seven to ten days. To assist in the recovery process, we’ll provide detailed post-operative instructions, including a customized plan for controlling post-operative pain.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)