Tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of the tonsils. This is performed primarily when you have serious bouts of tonsillitis and strep throats so often than expected complications later on in life is imminent.
One common complication of strep throat is rheumatic fever which sometimes leads to heart valve disease whereby the bacteria damages the heart valve, usually the mitral valve, damaging the leaflets through scarring, making them either overlap or not close properly causing regurgitation or leakage. Severe regurgitation would require open heart surgery either to repair or replace the valve with a mechanical one or bioprosthetics.
Tonsil removal surgery is predominant in children below 12 years of age, where recurring throat infections are very common. Adults also get tonsillectomies for other reasons such as enlarged tonsils causing sleeping disorders like sleep apnea and loud snoring.
Although this procedure has declined over the years since the 1950’s, this is still considered the most common surgical procedures in the U.S. and in some part of the world, especially in children.
A lot of factors play in the determination of cost of tonsillectomy so it is important to have your family covered by medical insurance to reduce cost as much as possible.
Average Cost of Tonsil Removal
The average tonsil removal surgery cost performed in hospitals is around $4,000 to $7,000 for those who are not covered by health insurance. If it is done in an ambulatory clinic, the cost would be cheaper by around $2,000 to $3,000.
How much to remove tonsils through laser surgery? With the advanced technology, more and more people prefer lesser and non-invasive surgeries not only because of avoidance of pain and trauma after the operation but also because the downtime is very short. Laser surgery costs around $5,000.
The average with health insurance coverage is around $500 to $1000.
Some other cost considerations would include pre-surgery doctor visits and post-surgery doctor follow-ups. Unless otherwise included in the surgical package, prepare to pay for these check-ups. Typical doctor’s fee is around $500 to $600.
If you opt for the conventional operation, you will be placed under anesthesia and this would cost around $600 to $2,000 depending on the patient. Children usually need general anesthesia to make them fall asleep while adults only use local anesthesia.
Post-operation aftercare would include prescribed pain relievers and antibiotics.
In most children’s cases, adenoidectomy is also done simultaneously with tonsillectomy. This is cheaper procedure when done in a package than if done separately.
Shopping for Tonsil Removal
If you are advised to undergo a tonsillectomy, you might want to see an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor first for a second opinion or to check whether there are underlying circumstances surrounding your tonsil issues.
Finding a tonsil surgeon starts from a referral from your child’s pediatrician or your family doctor. Although most hospitals do this kind of surgery so you have a wide array of choices.
Factors Affecting Cost of Tonsil Removal
When throat infections become more than a nuisance because of the frequency, you might want to not be bothered of how much to remove tonsils and push through with the surgery.
- Insurance coverage – most comprehensive health insurance cover tonsillectomy, but the percentage of your out-of-pocket expenses would depend on the insurance company and your policy.
- Location – different states have varying tonsillectomy rates. There are instances where the standard of living in an area dictates the surgical rates. So expect higher fees if you are living in the affluent areas in the country.
- Hospital – be sure to inquire for the rates in the various hospitals to get the cheapest rates.
- Kind of facility – as mentioned, you can save on tonsillectomy cost when you opt to have it done in ambulatory clinics rather than in a hospital operating room.
When to Tell if It’s Time?
It is easy to decide to undergo tonsillectomy especially when you want to take precaution. But when is it really necessary to do it? Here are the following conditions:
- Repeated strep throat and/or tonsillitis in a year especially when it has abscesses that produce foul odor in the mouth even with antibiotics.
- When enlarged tonsils are causing a sleeping disorder called sleep apnea and loud snoring, and can sometimes factor in eating problems.
- When you are suspected to have a tumor in the tonsil where a biopsy is needed, you might as well have your tonsils remove altogether.
- When the quality of life is affected by the recurring illness like the need to skip school or work often.
Removal of tonsils are often done as an outpatient surgery in most cases, but some may need an overnight stay in the hospital when there are less serious complications from the procedure.
Recovery may take around one to two weeks depending on age, where children tend to recover faster than adults.
Aside from the prescribed pain relievers and antibiotics, patients are advised to take cold drinks and eat cold foods such as ice cream as these aid in the faster healing of the wound from the surgery.
Laser tonsillectomy does not require any after-surgery healing which other patients prefer. But there are usually price to pay for convenience. The setbacks of this method are the high chance of recurrent tonsillitis and re-growth and the possible multiple sessions required to complete the removal which means spending more on the cost.
Side Effects of Tonsillectomy
Like all surgical operations, tonsillectomy is not without any side effects. Most notable common side-effects and risks may include:
- painful post-operation
- painful or difficulty swallowing
- breathing problems
- persistent throat pain
- swelling of the face and throat
- may also have bad breath for a few days
- may affect the sound and volume of the voice
- long recovery period
- problems with anesthesia
- may not feel well for a week up to 10 days
Very rare risks may include:
- secondary infections
- loss of speech
- the risk of serious bleeding after surgery
Still many opt to wait for the right time to undergo the procedure as it is believed that tonsils play an important role in the immune system of the body, while others are dreading the complications that may arise after. Whatever the decision you may come up with, be sure that your choice outweighs the potential consequence of doing otherwise.