Lingual Tonsillectomy

Although you may be familiar with tonsils in the back of your throat, few realize that you also have tonsil tissue on the base/back of your tongue called the lingual (“tongue”) tonsils.

If your lingual tonsils become too enlarged they may cause a collapse of the airway at night causing snoring or sleep apnea. Dr. Pasha may consider removing your lingual tonsils if they are determined to be contributing to your snoring or sleep apnea.

Lingual tonsillectomy is performed in the operating room while you are asleep. Often times a lingual tonsillectomy is performed with Palatal (Oropharyngeal) Reconstruction at the same time.

In order to reach the back of the tongue a scope is used to visualize the tongue base through the mouth. Using a newer technique that vibrates the tissue called coblation, the lingual tonsils are reduced. No incisions are required.

Lingual Tonsillectomy | FAQ’s

Does a lingual tonsillectomy hurt?

Surprisingly, removal of the lingual tonsils typically is not as uncomfortable as removal of the tonsils and soft palate. If you are also undergoing a tonsillectomy or soft palate reconstruction the lingual tonsillectomy should not add significant discomfort to the procedure.

Regardless, you will be prescribed pain medication either from our office or from a referral to a pain specialist.

Will the way I swallow change?

Enlarged lingual tonsils have minimal influence in swallowing. Removal of enlarged lingual tonsils typically has very little effect on swallowing function.

Will my voice change?

No. The creation of your voice begins in the voice box while resonance is a function the back of the nose. The tongue and lips participate in articulation but it is the front of the tongue that is functional in speech. Therefore, lingual tonsil removal has very little effect in voice.

What can I eat after the surgery?

You will be on a soft diet for 10-14 days while your throat and base of tongue heals to avoid bleeding. For most you should anticipate a 5-15 lb. weight loss. It is important to maintain your fluid and electrolyte intake while healing to avoid dehydration. Dehydration is a common cause of increased pain as well as complications after surgery.

What are the risks of the procedure?

Lingual tonsillectomy is a safe and proven method to reduce the size of enlarged lingual tonsils. Complications are rather rare. The number one complication (<1%) would be bleeding. If this occurs you may require a visit to the operating room to “buzz” the bleeder.

Functional complications (numbness, swallowing, and voice changes) are exceedingly rare.

As with any sleep apnea procedure failure is a possibility, as no guarantee can be made for any snoring/sleep apnea procedure. A more comprehensive list of potential complications will be discussed in the office. You will also be given comprehensive counseling by Dr. Pasha and his staff.