RisksBy Mayo Clinic staff
Tonsillectomy, like other surgeries, has certain risks:
- Reactions to anesthetics. Medication to make you sleep during surgery often causes minor, short-term problems, such as headache, nausea, vomiting or muscle soreness. Serious, long-term problems are rare, though general anesthesia is not without the risk of death.
- Swelling. Swelling of the tongue and soft roof of the mouth (soft palate) can cause breathing problems, particularly during the first few hours after the procedure.
- Bleeding during surgery. In rare cases, severe bleeding occurs during surgery and requires additional treatment and a longer hospital stay.
- Bleeding during healing. Bleeding can occur during the healing process, particularly if the scab from the wound is dislodged too soon. Emergency surgery to stop the bleeding is riskier than scheduled surgeries that allow for appropriate pre-surgical safeguards, such as fasting.
- Infection. Rarely, surgery can lead to an infection that requires further treatment.
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