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Tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the tonsils (palatine tonsils), which are soft tissue masses on each side at the back of the throat.

Expected length of hospital stay

Your length of stay is dependent on your recovery and is usually at the discretion of your Doctor or treating team. Discharge is usually the morning following your surgery.

After your operation

  • After your surgery you will go to the recovery room where you will be observed until you are more awake. 
  • It is common to need oxygen which is given via an oxygen mask or nasal prongs. 
  • When you have recovered from the anaesthetic you will return to your allocated bed in the postoperative ward. The nurses will check your pulse, respiration (breathing) rate, temperature, blood pressure, pain score and check your wound regularly. 
  • Your doctor will order pain relief and anti-nausea medications for you. Please tell your nurse if you have any pain or nausea, so these symptoms can be managed. 
  • Following your operation you will be offered ice to suck or water to sip. After a few hours you can begin to drink fluids as you are able. Intravenous fluids (a drip) will sometimes be administered until you are able to eat and drink.
  • You will be resting in bed with your head elevated.
  • It is important that you begin your deep breathing and leg exercises. These help prevent complications such as chest infections and blood clots in your legs and should be carried out every hour that you are awake.
  • Early mobilisation is encouraged to help reduce the risk of blood clots. 
  • Your nurses will check your vital signs and look down your throat for several hours after the surgery. These checks become less often but remain regular until you leave hospital.

In preparation of going home

  • Your nurse will discuss your follow-up appointment and any discharge arrangements that have been made with you.
  • You will recommence your normal medications.
  • Please tell the nursing staff if you have any pain so that they may give you medication to help relieve it.
  • You are encouraged to be independent with your showering and walking. Your shower should not be hot as this may overheat the body and cause faintness.
  • You may have food and fluids as desired; ensure they are not too hot as this can increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Your observations will be checked before you are discharged.
  • You should not have any unexpected bleeding or swelling or excessive swallowing.

Discharge advice following tonsillectomy surgery

What to expect

  • Blood stained mucous in the mouth and throat in normal for the first two or three days.
  • Delayed haemorrhage can occur up to two weeks after surgery so make sure you inform your doctor of any excess bleeding.
  • Drink around eight glasses of fluids a day with at least half of this being water. This will assist with healing.
  • Eat a normal nutritious diet.
  • The medications you should take at home will be discussed with you prior to discharge.
  • Chewing gum may help to produce saliva and alleviate an uncomfortable dry mouth or throat.
  • Clean your teeth after each meal and gently rinse your mouth frequently.


What to avoid

  • Over exertion
  • Harsh coughing or clearing you throat
  • Vigorous nose blowing (breathe through your nose)
  • Hard crunchy foods 
  • Do not consume any hot liquids or spicy foods for two weeks after surgery.
  • You will be advised when you may return to work or school. If you need a medical certificate, please ask for one before leaving hospital. 



Please contact either your General Practitioner (GP) or the hospital in which you had your surgery, immediately if you experience any of the following after discharge:

  • unexpected persistent bleeding
  • you develop a temperature
  • coughing up large amounts of blood
  • vomiting large amounts of blood
  • any other concerns

If you live remotely, it is important to stay close to the hospital in which you had your surgery for at least one week following your surgery, due to the risk of bleeding.

Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-420036
Last modified 23/7/2020.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 28/5/2020
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
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