A doctor prepares her patient for a tonsillectomy

Preparing for a Tonsillectomy

A tonsillectomy is surgery to remove the tonsils. Although they are responsible for helping to fight infection, it is possible for the tonsils to become so infected that it’s better to remove them. Getting your tonsils removed can be frightening, even though it’s an outpatient surgery. It still means anesthesia, pain following surgery, and a change in what you can eat. Here’s a little help getting ready for your tonsillectomy. 

Talk to your doctor.

The most important part of getting ready for a tonsillectomy is talking to your doctor. Write down any questions you have before you go, and don’t be afraid to ask them. A physician who is familiar with your case is often your best source of information. They should also give you instructions specific to your surgery and their preferred methods. 

Avoid eating before surgery. 

Most surgeries require an empty stomach—the anesthesia can make you vomit, which is dangerous when you’re unconscious. 12 hours without any food or drink is usually a safe bet, but your doctor can tell you a more exact length of time to fast before surgery. 

Know your medications. 

You’ll also be starting medication to help with pain and prevent infection. First, make sure your doctor knows all your medications and supplements beforehand, to avoid conflicting prescriptions. It’s also often a good idea to avoid medication with aspirin for several days before surgery. Other medications might need to be avoided closer to surgery time as well. Make sure your doctor knows any allergies you might have too. 

Consider discussing the medications your doctor plans to prescribe before the day of surgery. Anesthesia often leaves you feeling fuzzy, so you’ll want to ask any questions beforehand. Many physicians provide a written copy of key information in case you forget. 

Prepare for recovery. 

After surgery, you aren’t going to feel like doing much of anything. Have someone ready to drive you home from the hospital, as no one should drive in a post-anesthetic state. Go grocery shopping a few days before, and purchase items that will be easy to swallow and gentle on the throat. Ask your doctor if there’s anything you should avoid during the recovery period. 

Schedule your surgery during a time when you’re out of school or able to get time off work. It can take up to two weeks to feel totally back to normal and pain-free following a tonsillectomy—and the older you are, the harder it becomes. If you live alone, you might want someone to stay with you for a night or two, until you feel confident you can manage on your own. 

Last Updated: May 05, 2016