In some patients, the tonsils – located in the back of your throat – may “hypertrophy” or enlarge and lead to blockage and obstruction of the oral airway.

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The consequent blockage and turbulent airflow may contribute to snoring and/or sleep apnea. More common in children, tonsillar hypertrophy may also be present in adults. If found to be a significant source of obstruction, removal of the tonsils via tonsillectomy may be indicated. Techniques to remove the tonsils vary widely. The past decade has seen the rise of “sub-capsular,” and partial tonsillectomies as less invasive treatments for patients with tonsillar hypertrophy. These newer procedures seem to be associated with decreased post-operative pain; however, there appears to be insufficient data at this time to support their efficacy.

Tonsil treatment procedures are typically associated with significant post-operative pain, particularly in adult patients. Some have described the “worse sore throat of my life.” Complications vary and include bleeding and hemorrhage (most common complication occurs in 2-3% of patients), change in voice, dehydration, mouth and lip burns, and – on rare occasion – death. In some cases, the problem (snoring, sleep apnea) may persist after tonsil treatment.