Adult Tonsillectomy

Before You Go To Sleep

If you haven’t already met your anaesthetist you will meet them either on the ward or in the anaesthetic bay on the day of your surgery. At this stage if you have any concerns or worries about your operation or anaesthetic please let them know.

Once in the anaesthetic bay you will have an intravenous drip placed and often you will be given a sedative “relaxing medication” just before going into the operating theatre. You often will not remember much after being given the sedative. Once inside the operating theatre you will have several monitors placed (these monitor things like your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing patterns). Once these are placed you will be given an oxygen mask and then receive another injection through the drip. This injection will be the anaesthetic medicine that induces unconsciousness. The next thing you will remember is waking up either in the recovery room or in the operating theatre.

The Operation

During the operation your anaesthetist will remain with you monitoring your operation, your anaesthetic and all your vital physiological functions. They stay with you continuously until you reach the recovery room, where your care will continued by the recovery staff. While you are in recovery if you have any discomfort or feel nauseated or sick it is important that you let the recovery staff know. They can administer pain killers or anti nausea drugs if they are required. The aim is to have you comfortable when you leave recovery for the ward.

Your Stay in Hospital

Generally speaking most people will stay overnight in hospital with your intravenous drip in to give you fluid and medications during that first night. Most patients generally have a pretty good stay in hospital and indeed generally have a good first 24 hours in terms of pain and discomfort, however if you have any discomfort please let the nursing staff know. The next morning most patients will be discharged home. If your operation is early in the day it will be possible for you to go home on the same day. When you go home we generally suggest asking the nursing staff to give you a disposable vomit bag for the car ride home. Whilst it doesn’t sound elegant, the motion of the car not infrequently can make you feel a bit nauseated.

At Home

Once home at some stage during the first day you will start to get some discomfort in your throat. This will generally get worse for 4 -5 days and then settle over the next week. During this time you will most likely need regular pain killers and it is not unusual to require them for up to a week or more after the operation. During this first week it is very important to remain well hydrated and to eat regularly, as drinking and eating help to keep the back of your throat clean and help it to heal.

Pain Killing Medication

It is common that you will need pain killing medication for up to a week after your operation. Most commonly you will be sent home on a combination of regular paracetamol and a stronger pain killer such as codeine or oxycodone, which you can take on top of the paracetamol when needed. By taking the paracetamol regularly it will decrease the amount of the stronger pain killers that you may need. Occasionally you may be given an anti inflammatory agent called Celebrex. If your pain is not controlled adequately with this combination you can also try a gargle such as Difflam or Cepecaine which will act to numb the back of your throat. If you still have significant pain after this then please contact your anaesthetist. Oxycodone and codeine are restricted medications that must be used only for postoperative pain as prescribed specifically for you. Under no circumstances should you give them to friends or family or leave them within the reach of children.


It is important to eat and drink regularly after your surgery. There are no absolute restrictions on your diet, however very acidic foods such as oranges, pineapples, tomatoes and other citrus fruits tend to irritate the throat and the milky dairy type products tend to soothe the throat. Some common favourites include custard, jelly, ice cream, Paddlepops, mashed potato, Weetbix, macaroni and cheese and spaghetti . If you don’t feel like eating much that is not unusual, a breakfast drink like Up and Go will give you reasonable calories and fluid replacement as a supplement. A normal diet and plenty of water will help you heal as quickly as possible.