What happens during the day of the operation?

The operation on the tonsils is safe, quick and easy. Most people can go home the same day and don’t need to spend the night in hospital. At the hospital, a nurse will ask you to change from your normal clothes into hospital clothes. Then the nurse will check your body temperature and your blood pressure. An ointment will be put onto a couple of places on your hand or arm, which makes the skin feel numb or as if it’s “gone to sleep”. Sometimes, you’re given medicine to help you relax. After that, you might become dizzy and feel a bit strange. You will also get medicine that will help you from hurting too much after the surgery. Once the preparations are over, you have to lie down on a special bed.

General Anesthesia

Your parents will be with you when it’s time to enter the operating room. All the staff wear the same kind of clothes and special hats. They all look very funny. In the operating room, there are a lot of machines, screens, tubes, lights and other equipment. It’s almost like being in a spaceship. Really cool! The doctors and nurses use all of this equipment to make sure that you sleep safe and sound, and so that they can operate on your tonsils without you feeling anything.

A nurse or doctor will attach a plastic tube or “sleep tube” to your arm where the ointment was rubbed in. They use that to give you sleep medicine and medicine to take away any pain. Sometimes, you may also have to breathe a special sleeping gas through a mask. It’s like a real space mask!

The operation

You’re asleep during the whole surgery. During the surgery, the machines keep an eye on what’s happening in your body. The doctors and nurses watch how you are breathing, your heartbeat, blood pressure and how much oxygen you have in your blood.

The doctor uses a special instrument that keeps your mouth wide open and pushes your tongue down so they can operate on your tonsils. The whole thing doesn’t take longer than about an hour, but you won’t notice because you will be asleep!


After the operation, you are moved to the recovery room/“wake-up” room. You’ll be resting there while you wake up from the sleep medicine. Your parents will be with you in the “wake-up” room. When you start waking up, you’ll feel tired and perhaps a little dizzy from the sleep medicine. It may also feel strange in your throat and it may even hurt a little. Your tongue might feel strange, but that will disappear very quickly. Sometimes, you may also feel a little sick/nauseous. You’ll get medicine that will make you feel better and to help keep the pain away.

As soon as you’re completely awake, you can have something to eat and drink (ice cream usually tastes good!).

Most children can go home after a few hours. If you feel very sleepy or for some other reason, the doctor may want you to stay the night at the hospital. This is so that the doctor and the nurses can check that you’re OK. One of your parents can stay with you at the hospital.