Partial or Full Tonsillotomy

Updated on August 12, 2019
S.H. asks from Gibsonville, NC
15 answers

I went to the ENT yesterday for tonsil stones he said in the office they could do a partial which would be cutting away part of the tonsil cleaning it out and let the surface grow back smooth. A 70% chance that it would take care of the problem and the stones would not come back. The only way to be sure they won't come back is to have a full tonsillotomy. In the office would be numbing my throat but no real anesthesia he said if I think I could handle that. Because the recovery time is shorter and it's less painful. To have a full one done you have to be under anesthesia.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the advice. I did go to see it ENT yesterday and I've been seeing a regular doctor like two or three times a week to try to remove the stones and they keep coming back and they're not even sure if they really get it all out so that's why that ENT suggest partial or full tonsil removal I'm concerned about the bleeding and the danger since I am 56 and I'm also concerned about doing a partial in the office with just numbing meds but no anesthesia as the ENT says if I think I can take that. Prayers please.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I would want to do a full tonsillectomy. However, I'd like a second opinion and find out WHY i'm continually getting tonsil stones.

If you don't have tonsils, you can't get tonsil stones, right?

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answers from Dallas on

First of all, I truly hope you are talking to medical professionals and not relying on strangers on the internet for medical advice.

You can remove tonsil stones yourself and I have never heard of getting tonsils out because of tonsil stones. However, I am not a Dr. and I do not provide medical diagnosis. My daughter gets tonsil stones and she takes them out herself.

If it were me... and a Dr advised a partial or complete removal... I would get it all out at once and be done with it. Why take the chance to go back in later. Fix it all at once.

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answers from Washington DC on


Welcome to mamapedia.

Have you spoken to a doctor about this? What is prompting this surgery?

There is not enough information to really answer this and I'm not a doctor. I only play one on the internet!! (LOL). You really need to seek out an ENT Doctor who can help you make this decision and tell you WHY you need this surgery....there's too many unanswered questions here

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answers from Portland on

I am not fully sure I get what you are asking.

One of my kids had stones and had the sides of the throat kind of burned away by an ENT - without being under. Throat kind of numbed, and kind of laser-ed while done awake. Not sure how else to describe it.

That left everything kind of smooth. Nowhere for the 'stones' to develop. So far, so good. It's supposed to be pretty effective. Very slim chance of needing further procedures.

This kid also has had adenoids out.

ETA: The stones are these little bits of food that get stuck in these grooves, and you can press them out (clean yourself). They run on one side of our family because cousins have them. It is just kind of smelly if left in there long term and kind of unpleasant to take out. So for my kid, kind of cosmetic.

No one mentioned the other procedure (tonsillectomy) or going under in our case. My nephew had tonsillectomy but that was because he had his done well over a decade ago. Now they don't need to. In our case, it was a quick, pretty painless procedure (I was there with my child) and pretty fast recovery - popsicles and the like, and back to school pretty quickly. So far, no stones since as I said.

*This is the definition of tonsil stones I took off the internet just to make sure we're talking about the same thing - 'Tonsilloliths, also known as tonsil stones, are soft aggregates of bacterial and cellular debris that form in the tonsillar crypts, the crevices of the tonsils. While they occur most commonly in the palatine tonsils, they may also occur in the lingual tonsils. Tonsil stones are common.'

**Just to add, the numbing is done by a needle (think like what they do when a dentist numbs your mouth to do dental procedures). It took maybe 15 minutes if that.

Good luck - it really is pretty simple as far as procedures go and the extra skin just falls away and that's it.

ETA 2 - Quiet one - good article. My kid who had the procedure done has allergies. Interesting. And thanks Military Mom. That's very interesting.

Just a side note. I talked to my kid who had them removed by laser or however it is they do it (without removing whole tonsils). He said he does have 'small' ones now - much smaller, and instead of all the time, just now and then - so they did return. He never thought to tell me because no where near as bothersome. However, there's your answer. It's not 100% effective. He just spits them out (coughs them up) and has to still remove himself.

To this day, I still don't fully understand what they are - I've peered in and had a glimpse, but unless you have them I think it's hard to comprehend. He says you can't really tell but you can SMELL them (in his case).

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answers from Atlanta on

if you are going to get them removed? Then I would suggest you get them ALL out and not partial.

Yes, to have a full tonsillectomy is done under anesthesia. I would elect to have it all done since it won't be a 100% cure to do a partial.

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answers from Norfolk on

Have them all completely out.
Tonsils are something no one really needs and for some they are nothing but trouble.

She just said she just saw an ENT.
Tonsil stones stink like something crawled in and died in your mouth/throat.
Taking the tonsils all out keeps the stones from coming back.
It's a bit longer recovery for an adult than it is for a kid but it's worth it.
It's a shame you never had them out as a kid.
Do the full anesthesia route, let them take the whole mess out, you'll eat ice cream and popsicles for a week or two and then it's all over once and for all.

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answers from Dallas on

I personally would not have it don't without anesthesia. And if a dr wanted to do that type of surgery on me even a partial one I would get a second opinion. I get tonsil stones and yes they are nasty. But can be taken out without surgery. I tried to get the dr to take mine out when I was a teen but they would not do it. They said they don't do it now as much as they used to. (I think it was cause I didn't have insurance) But at this point in my life if they said they would do a partial one there is no way I would take the chance of having to do it again.

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answers from San Francisco on

You can clean out your tonsil stones if you want.

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answers from Miami on

Please have an excellent ENT surgeon do this for you. Not in the office! Not without anesthesia! You will be trying to keep from clawing your way off the chair.

Tonsillectomies are painful for adults. I had mine was 17. The thing is, you’re going to have probably 70 percent of the pain for a partial tonsillectomy. I would rather “man up” and have the whole thing done and brave the extra pain than face the issue again. And I say that as having gone through a painful week myself.

Get as much done as you can before the surgery- prepare/buy the ingredients for what you are supposed to eat (find out in advance), clean, wash clothes, etc. You will want to rest and you’ll need to. Expect an entire week.

Removing these tonsils will make you feel tons better.

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answers from Washington DC on

i myself would get them out and be done with it. anesthesia and a little longer recovery time opposed to an operation in which i'd be awake and have a 30% chance of having to do it again would be a no brainer.

might be different for something no one needs. but tonsils?

however, my decision making would happen in discussion with the ENT, not strangers on the internet.


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answers from New York on

Not sure that this would help you or not, but I used to have tonsil stones - I mostly was able to remove them myself as I saw them pop up with a q-tip to the back of the throat. If I couldn't, I would have the dr (just my regular doc) do it when I was in for something else, or the dentist might do it while in for a cleaning. I thought I'd have them forever since they create kind of a crater in your tonsil and then it just kind of refills that same spot.

I gave up dairy about 5 years ago (maybe 7) and I haven't had a single stone since. That's not why I gave up the dairy at all, and it wasn't until my dentist commented about it awhile later, that I even realized I no longer had them.

I'm sure this wouldn't work for everyone, but I'd sure pick giving up dairy just to see if it helped, over going under the knife (even out patient) - especially in my 50's.

Good luck no matter what you decide.

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answers from Portland on

Have you talked with a doctor. If so, what information did they give you so you could make an informed decision? If you haven't discussed this with your doctor, do so. None of us can tell you what is best for your health. Every person and body is different. Your choice needs to be what works for you based on your health.

A couple of medical web sites said when the stones are removed the tonsils are left intact. I've never heard of a partial tonsillectomy. I had a tonsillectomy in my youth because I was having repeated tonsillitis. The surgery was a last's important that you get a medical opinion.

After you added information: i have had three medical procedures without anesthesia. Full anesthesia is hard on the body thus is not done unless neccessary.

When patient is kept awake, they are given a medication that allows them to be awake and still not fully aware. Several years ago medical staff called it twilight anesthesia. With this anesthesia the patient may not remember some of what happened during the procedure.

I've had this when a tube was put into my lung for a biopsy of growth. The second was when a wire was threaded through a vein to check for reason I had extra heart beats. The third time was this week when they removed cataracts. All three surgeries went well. I felt calm and relaxed. It takes 2-3 days to get over the effects of the medicine.

I've had major surgeries under full anesthesia. My doctor said the effects of full anesthesia lessons over time but some minor effects can last for months.

I would choose what you call partial tonsillectomy over total tonsil removal. I had a tonsillectomy. My throat was extremely sore. I missed 3 weeks of work because i had strep throat during that time. I was tired for several months with all my full anesthesia surgeries.

As to bleeding and danger, age has little to do with it when compared with current health. Did the doctor tell you what the percentage of risk is for each procedure." The risk for failure for cataract surgery is 2%. The risk in full anesthesia is more. I don't remember the numbers. I took the risk each time because my need for surgery outweighed the possibility of risk.

I suggest you discuss the risks involved with both procedures.

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answers from Portland on

Tonsils are part of your lymphatic system and are a first-line of defense against germs that come in through your mouth and nose, so I would be hesitant to just cut them out for tonsil stones, unless you're getting actual recurrent tonsil infections.

I used to have tonsil stones all the time. (I could taste when they were in there even when I couldn't see them. They certainly are vile. God forbid if you happen to bite down on one! But I digress.) I wish I could tell you why mine went away but I have been working to deal with allergies and autoimmune diseases. I rarely get them now.

This link may be of use:

Also, there's the saying "if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail", which I think applies to any surgeon.

Whatever way you go, I hope it goes well for you.

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answers from Washington DC on

If it’s the procedure Margie is talking about I would definitely opt for that vs full blown surgery! Sounds pretty effective and way less invasive. I have a lot of sinus drainage and get tonsil stones but not to the point of surgery. Yours must be pretty bad.

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answers from Tampa on

This is something to be discussed with the dr.. but if it was me and going under the knife- take all of those suckers out so I do it 1x.. because if it’s partial as per what they told you there is a chance it might come back so you have to deal with this again.. oh heck no!

Get a 2nd opinion!

Ps No way would I do a removal even partial without anesthesia! But I am a coward! Lol


This is something to be discussed with the dr.. but if it was me and going under the knife- take all of those suckers out so I do it 1x.. because if it’s partial as per what they told you there is a chance it might come back so you have to deal with this again.. oh heck no!

Get a 2nd opinion!

Ps No way would I do a removal even partial without anesthesia! But I am a coward! Lol

1 mom found this helpful
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