Can Tonsils Grow Back


If You Have Your Tonsils Removed, There’s Always the Possibility of Them Regenerating.

Did you know that it’s actually possible for your tonsils or adenoids to regenerate? That’s right, even if you’ve had a tonsillectomy – your tonsils (or adenoids) can still grow back. Many children and young teens suffer from chronic issues such as tonsillitis. While having a tonsillectomy is among the safer of modern medical procedures, it still has its risks – for example, tonsils growing back. Your tonsils are a form of lymphoid tissues. These particular types of tissues have the ability to regrow rather easily, unlike other tissues in the body (such as your brain tissue, which cannot regenerate as easily, if at all.) Just like your lymph nodes, which are also located in the neck, your tonsils can continue growing to enormous sizes, unhealthy sizes – which generally is one of the needs for a tonsillectomy. While there are several different forms of tonsillectomies, there are two choices most commonly preferred by otolaryngologists. (Note: otolaryngologists are nose, ears, and throat doctors.)

Most Frequently Used Tonsillectomies

Cold-knife dissection – This is considered to be the standard and most traditional tonsillectomy. The tonsils are removed with a scalpel by the surgeon. This is also the most practiced form of tonsillectomy, and is generally considered to be the safest. Unfortunately, if the surgeon misses any part of the tonsil – there is a possibility that the tonsil can regenerate.

Microdebrider– A Microdebrider tonsillectomy is the second choice for surgeons. This particular form of operation uses a rotary shaving technique. This technique usually only involves removing part of the tonsils, but leaving the outer layer closest to the throat to prevent damage. Unfortunately, leaving the outer layer of the tonsil will increase the chances of one or both of the tonsils regrowing.

Other Forms

Harmonic Scalpel – This procedure uses a form of energy (ultrasonic) to vibrate the blade of a scalpel. Thousands of vibrations help transfer energy to the tonsils which cuts and removes them. This procedure is more risky than other forms of tonsillectomies because the vibration of the scalpel tool can heat the tonsils and surrounding tissues up to one hundred and seventy six degrees Fahrenheit.

Carbon Dioxide Laser (or Laser Tonsil Ablation) is when a laser “vaporizes and removes tonsil tissue.” The removal of the tissue in this procedure helps remove the crevices in which foods and liquids collect, which in turn helps reduce or eliminate chronic infections.

Radiofrequency Ablation – This procedure uses radiofrequencies to scar the tonsil tissues. Over a certain length of time, the scarring will cause the tonsil tissue to shrink. There is little to no discomfort and requires very little recovery time. This procedure is generally used for large tonsils that are not causing infections, but are simply larger than normal.

Electrocautery – This is perhaps one of the more painful and more dangerous of tonsil procedures. Electrocautery tonsillectomies burn away the tonsil tissues. Unfortunately, the heat can reach up to seven hundred and fifty two degrees Fahrenheit which can severely damage surrounding tissues. This form of tonsillectomy generally causes the most discomfort in the patient.

If a tonsillectomy is in the future for you or your child, be sure to ask your doctor about which specific procedure they are recommending. Many patients don’t know that there are multiple forms of tonsillectomies and it’s important for you to know what is going on.

Sources Cited:

Salynn Boyles, CBS News – Novel Tonsillectomy May Cut Pain, Bleeding, But Tonsils Can Grow Back After Surgery

Kids Health For Parents, Questions and Answers – Can Tonsils Grow Back?

David Slotnick, M.D., YourTotalHealth – Tonsillectomy