A tonsillectomy is a fairly common procedure and is performed on patients of all ages. The Surgery Center of Fort Collins performs tonsillectomies for pediatric and adult patients. If you or your child is preparing to undergo a tonsillectomy at the Surgery Center, here is everything you need to know.
What is a tonsillectomy?
A tonsillectomy is the removal of the tonsils. Tonsils are the small organs found at the back of the throat that produce white blood cells to help fight infections. Sometimes, the tonsils themselves can become infected. Frequent infections may cause reason for a tonsillectomy. Other reasons include breathing problems, snoring, or sleep apnea. During a tonsillectomy, the surgeon will remove the tonsils one of a few ways. The Surgery Center of Fort Collins uses the cauterization procedure.
Do I need a tonsillectomy?
Tonsils can help keep objects out of the lungs, filter bacteria, and produce white blood cells to help fight infections. In some cases, however, the tonsils themselves become infected; this infection is called tonsillitis. Signs of tonsillitis include a fever, swollen tonsils, a sore throat, earaches, and white or yellow spots on the tonsils. Frequent cases of tonsillitis may lead your doctor to recommend a tonsillectomy.
A tonsillectomy may also be recommended if you have troubles with breathing and/or sleeping. Swollen tonsils can make breathing difficult, can cause loud snoring, or sleep apnea. Those who have trouble sleeping due to large tonsils are also being deprived of healthy, restful sleep which can cause further health problems. In those cases, it may be best for the patient to have their tonsils removed.
What is cauterization?
The Surgery Center of Fort Collins uses cauterization to remove the tonsils during a tonsillectomy. During this type of procedure, the tonsils are cauterized (burned) to be removed. Cauterization minimizes bleeding because the surgeon is able to seal off blood vessels. It is a very common procedure, and the tonsils can be removed from the mouth.
What are tonsillectomy risks?
Every surgery has risks, and the tonsillectomy is no different. It is very routine and common, but you will be at risk for swelling, infection, bleeding, and reactions to anesthetics. It’s important to inform your doctor of any complications you’ve had in the past with anesthetics or medications. Some soreness or a light fever after the surgery is normal, but contact your doctor if you have a high fever, pain does not subside after taking pain medication, or you vomit the day after the procedure.
What happens during a tonsillectomy?
Before your tonsillectomy, you’ll receive a phone call from the pre-operative screening nurse at the Surgery Center for pre-surgery instructions and to go over health history and your current medications. As a general rule, though, you shouldn’t eat after midnight before your surgery.
We do offer tours ahead of time to help ease fears and anxiety about the upcoming procedure. We find that a tour and the chance to meet some of our staff helps calm many of our pediatric patients. If you are interested in touring the facility with your child before the day of their operation, please give us a call.
On the day of surgery, we ask that you arrive 60 minutes before your scheduled time. You will be checked in and given general anesthesia. The procedure itself is usually only about 20-30 minutes. As mentioned above, your surgeon will cauterize the tonsils and remove them through the mouth. No skin incisions will be made. Once you’re awake, you will be free to go home!
If it is your child undergoing the procedure, you are required to remain at the facility the entire time. If the patient is over 18 years old, family and friends are welcome to wait in our lobby area and enjoy WiFi, TV, snacks, and drinks. All patients are required to have a responsible adult available to drive them home after the tonsillectomy. We strongly recommend having someone stay with you for at least 24 hours after your surgery.
Recovery from a tonsillectomy
A tonsillectomy is usually a quick outpatient surgery. This means the patient will not need to stay overnight and can finish recovering from the comfort of their own home.
Total recovery time is usually about two weeks. During this time, stick to soft foods such as pudding, ice cream, applesauce, or oatmeal, and drink lots of fluids. Experiencing a slight fever and some throat or ear pain is normal after tonsil removal but consult your doctor if you are vomiting or bleeding.
Tonsillectomies are most often performed on pediatric patients (although adults may need their tonsils removed, too). The Surgery Center of Fort Collins does perform tonsillectomies for our pediatric patients. We strive to make children as comfortable as possible, allowing them to tour the facility ahead of time, providing toys or books to occupy them during wait times, and encouraging them to bring a special toy or blanket for a sense of familiarity and comfort. We also recommend bringing an extra set of pajamas and undergarments in case the ones they are wearing become soiled or wet. Other pediatric surgeries we perform include ear tubes.
If you have additional questions about tonsillectomies or what a surgery looks like at the Surgery Center of Fort Collins, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 970-494-4800. Our hours are 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday. You can also browse our website for additional resources such as FAQs and information on what to expect.