Tonsillectomy complications are relatively rare, although any person considering this type of surgery should be aware of the types of complications that are possible. Excessive bleeding and pain are the most frequently reported complications that arise. Negative reactions to the anesthesia used to sedate the patient for the procedure may also occur. Other possible complications include infection, dehydration, or permanent voice changes.
Bleeding is one of the more serious potential tonsillectomy complications. In most cases, if excessive bleeding is going to happen, it occurs within the first two hours of the procedure, although it can occur at any point in the healing process. For this reason, most surgeons will monitor the patient for a couple of hours after the surgery before releasing the patient to go home. In the most extreme cases, the bleeding may be significant enough to require hospitalization and a blood transfusion. Any significant bleeding that develops after the patient goes home should be reported to a doctor right away.
Pain and improper healing are among the possible tonsillectomy complications. Some degree of pain is normal after the surgery, but some patients may experience severe pain. If this kind of pain is accompanied by improper healing or if the symptoms that created the need for the surgery are not alleviated, additional surgical procedures may become necessary. Rarely, there may be permanent changes to the voice, or a condition known as nasal regurgitation may develop after undergoing a tonsillectomy.
Dehydration and infection are also potential complications of the procedure. Dehydration can be prevented by making sure that the patient drinks plenty of liquids following the surgery. Popsicles are a good way to prevent dehydration while soothing the discomfort and inflammation following a tonsillectomy. Infection is another possible complication associated with this type of surgery, so many doctors will prescribe antibiotics in an effort to prevent infection from developing.
Various reactions to anesthesia are further possible tonsillectomy complications. Most patients who experience a reaction to anesthesia will feel nauseous for a while after waking up from surgery, and a few may vomit. The medical staff will monitor the patient for signs of this type of reaction and will provide additional medication if needed. Occasionally, a potentially life-threatening condition known as anaphylaxis may occur, causing symptoms such as itching, swelling of the lips or throat, and difficulty breathing. Any questions or concerns about possible tonsillectomy complications on an individual basis should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.