Overview

If you’ve had surgery to remove your tonsils — a procedure known as a tonsillectomy — it’s possible for your tonsils to grow back. This can happen if tissue that gets left behind after the procedure regenerates. Typically, tonsils will regrow partially, but probably not completely.

Read on to learn more about the symptoms you might experience if your tonsils grow back and how doctors treat the problem.

Symptoms

Your tonsils are two oval-shaped pads of tissue in the back of your throat that help fight germs. If your tonsils grow back, you’ll probably see bumps where the tonsils used to be. Typically, this isn’t a problem unless they cause severe symptoms.

Sometimes, these “new” tonsils can become infected and swollen, just like your “old” tonsils did. But a sore throat or infection isn’t necessarily a symptom of tonsil regrowth.

Talk to your doctor if you think your tonsils are growing back.

Can you still get a sore throat if you don’t have tonsils?

Having your tonsils removed might result in fewer throat infections, but you can still get an infection or sore throat.

One study found that 95 percent of people who were surveyed after tonsil surgery said the procedure was effective at getting rid of their sore throats. They also reported that were glad they had surgery.

Surgery may reduce the number of throat infections in kids, but many children who don’t have their tonsils removed also have fewer throat infections over time.

Allergies, colds, smoke, and dry air can all cause a sore throat, even after you’ve had your tonsils removed.

Can you still get strep throat if you don’t have tonsils?

Having your tonsils removed lowers your chances of developing strep throat. Strep throat is an infection that’s caused by Streptococcus (strep) bacteria. Strep throat can cause a sudden sore throat, painful swallowing, and a high fever.

Doctors might suggest a tonsillectomy if a child has strep throat seven or more times a year.

You can still get strep throat even after you’ve had tonsil removal surgery. For this reason, surgery for repeated infections and strep throat has become a controversial topic in the medical community in recent years.

Do people need tonsils?

You don’t need your tonsils to survive, and having them removed doesn’t put you at increased risk for developing more infections. Your body will keep working normally if your tonsils are taken out.

Are some people at increased risk for tonsil regrowth?

Tonsil regrowth is relatively uncommon, but some research shows you might be more likely to experience this phenomenon if:

  • Your tonsils were removed at a very young age.
  • You had a tonsillotomy instead of a standard tonsillectomy. A tonsillotomy is a procedure where surgeons remove most of the tonsils but leave a thin layer of tissue.
  • You’ve experienced allergies or upper respiratory infections.
  • You have a history of acute tonsillitis prior to having your tonsils removed. Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils.

Treatment

If your tonsils grow back after surgery, you might not need any treatment at all.

If you develop infections or other problems, your doctor will recommend the same treatments you used before having a tonsillectomy. For instance, if you get strep throat, you’ll be given antibiotics.

In rare cases, doctors may recommend another surgery if your symptoms are severe.

Takeaway

Although it’s unlikely, your tonsils can grow back if you’ve had them removed. Most of the time, this regrowth isn’t something to worry about, but you should talk to your doctor if it happens.