How is a tonsillectomy done?

A tonsillectomy can be performed in many ways. The surgery will be performed under general anesthesia while you are sleeping. The surgery usually takes 20 to 30 minutes. You will not feel any pain while the doctor is removing the tonsils. All of the tonsils are usually removed, but some patients may benefit from a partial tonsillectomy.

A surgeon will use the technique that is best for the particular patient. The most common ways to take tonsils out include:

  • Electrocautery: This method uses heat to remove the tonsils and stop any bleeding.
  • Cold knife (steel) dissection: The tonsils are removed with a scalpel. Bleeding is then stopped with sutures or with electrocautery (extreme heat).
  • Harmonic scalpel: This method uses ultrasonic vibrations to cut and stop bleeding from the tonsils at the same time.
  • Other methods include the use of radiofrequency ablation techniques, a carbon dioxide laser, and/or a microdebrider.

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