Are tonsillectomies still performed?

When tonsillitis strikes, what do you do? Pray? Run to the doctor and hope they prescribe antibiotics that actually work–or will cause gut damage in the long haul? The solution for many has been getting their tonsils removed via a procedure known as tonsillectomy. But with advancements in medical knowledge and understanding of your immune system, is it still necessary to get your tonsils taken out?

What are Tonsils Anyway?

Before we delve into answering whether or not tonsillectomies are still performed, let’s take a quick look at what they really are.

According to Merriam-Webster, tonsils refer to: “either of two soft massess of lymphoid tissue located on each side of the throat that when inflamed can obstruct breathing.” However according to our resident medical student (who knows everything), Nathanial, they’re these weirdly shaped pink organ-like things at the back of your throat that sometimes swell up causing pain and discomfort.

What Causes Tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis mostly happens due to viral infections such as colds or flu but can also happen owing bacterial infections such as streptococcus pyogenes which causes strep throat.

Symptoms may include but aren’t limited to:

  • Sore Throat
  • Headache
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Fever

It’s worth noting however that just because you have these symptoms doesn’t mean it must be attributed solely for having inflamed tonsils. So definitely don’t jump ship yet!

Why Get Your Tonsils Removed?

For those who experience recurring episodes which makes swallowing anything feel like passing through hot coal; recurrent infection; difficulty sleeping caused by sleep apnea; enlargement leading difficult in breathing/drinking/eating etc., removal could be recommended. It’s called the tonsillectomy (an ingenious term), a surgical process which involves cutting out your lymphatic tissue by either electrosurgery, scalpel or Coblation–I know I was like “Cobla-who now?” just hear me out!

Coblation is dubbed as more advanced than other methods such as using a hot knife to recklessly sear away at your throat. Instead, an energized saline solution + radio waves are used to generate plasma that then dissolves the targeted tissues.

Is It Still Necessary?

The trend in recent years shows a decline in Tonsillectomies for simple reasons: doctors have come around from their old germophobic ways and decided let’s not remove random structures willy-nilly-causing long-term-health side effects except when medically necessary.

Additionally, research has shown that tonsillitis itself should be treated on a case-by-case basis instead of with excessive use of antibiotics e.g., bed rest versus prescribing indiscriminate antibiotic course. Same goes for children; removal isn’t encouraged until they’re older due to the vital role tonsils play during initial immune system development stages!

In fact according to Healthline, only 1% of Adults now get their tonsils removed today compared to the early-life routines of mass surgery.

But…What If Removal is Necessary?

Okay calm down buddy we can see you sweating over there but if it turns out weighing options ends up being removal-bound after all what really happens?

Firstly it’s important you actually relay all medical history including any medication currently taken with your doctor i.e; anesthesia may interfere with certain prescriptions leading complications later on. Doctors may advise against taking aspirin leading up to near scheduled operations because increased bleeding likelihood: proper communication between patient and physician leads decent outcomes.

On The day….:

  • Patients might receive general anaesthesia or local anaesthetics
  • Surgeons will cut off the tonsil(s)
  • Surgery lasts around 30 minutes
  • Most people can go home on the same day.

After that, take time to rest and be patient because healing times may differ from person to person. Drinking fluids regularly is recommended, no alcohol (yet), gargle salt water for comfort plus avoid post-surgical smoking–we shouldn’t smoke regardless actually :).

About 14 days after surgery is estimated recovery period; there’s light at end of tunnel!

Can It Come Back After Removal?


YES! Haha fooled you with question didn’t I but seriously this occurs albeit a tiny percentage. In fact according to Dr Robert Wood in his impressive expertise often ‘if your child has had seven episodes or more over a year and it doesn’t appear infections will subside,’ complete removal could be considered

When Is Tonsillitis Diagnostic For Cancer Risk?

Let’s say we’re reading Gross Anatomy during lab sessions full of cadavers aka dead bodies and some overly excited friend blurts out “Pssst did you know excessive enlargement due to Chronically inflamed Mucosa leads increased risk cancer?” what are our options?

First point “hello darkness my old friend how many tumors have you come across the screen today?” then maybe try to consult an actual professional doctor who can prescribe necessary tests such as biopsy if needed! Esophageal/tonsillar cancer incubation periods span few decades meaning without proper diagnosis odds worsen overtime so don’t snooze on seeking medical attention.

Doctors might make use of PET scans (Positron Emission Tomography) capable scanning body tissue structures assisting tumor detection before obvious symptoms occur worth noting also these measures not deemed applicable for everyone!


I hope Nathanial wasn’t lying when he argued that including asterisks ‘ ‘ is pretty essential in grabbing reader’s attention (as long as it isn’t everywhere) or else what’s taking away is he from the likes of Linus Pauling…who even knew him anyway? He was just a Nobel prize big deal right?


Tonsillectomy isn’t always needed in cases where antibiotics can successfully fight infections; it mostly depends on individual patient history. However let’s be clear here–again this shouldn’t deter you from seeking medical attention when infected because left untreated infections could lead to more serious issues.

Lucky for us there are lesser invasive techniques (we talked about Coblation) with quicker turnaround time if surgery ends up being the go-to. Moreover, learning to navigate our twisted immune system works better long-term than cutting out some structures we don’t quite understand yet!