Tonsil surgery has been described for over 3000 years. Haemorrhage following tonsillectomy remains the most serious complication of surgery. Over recent years several audits have been gathering data on current trends in tonsil surgery and clinical outcomes throughout England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The results support a return to traditional dissection with ties to reduce the risk of post-operative haemorrhage. We describe the changes that have occurred to improve efficacy and safety during the evolution of the modern tonsillectomy.