What Surgery is Adele Having?

About Dr. Reena Gupta

Dr. Reena Gupta is the Director of the Division of Voice and Laryngology at OHNI. Dr. Gupta has devoted her practice to the care of patients with voice problems. She is board certified in otolaryngology and laryngology and fellowship trained in laryngology, specializing in the care of the professional voice.

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It seems no matter how open Adele and her reps attempt to be, her condition will be dramatized and spun.  I’m sure, for her, it’s upsetting because it appears she’s trying to be honest about her condition.  And as I’ve written before, chances are she’s being honest. And yet the public seem intent on perpetuating this myth that there’s something more going on.

Let’s set the record straight

It’s rare for someone her age to get a smoking-related cancer.  However, as a smoker, her risk of future cancers is high and will persist for years after she quits smoking. Aside from future cancer risks, smoking has immediate potential consequences, including vocal hemorrhage, which is what her reps have repeatedly stated she has.

So what is a vocal hemorrhage anyway?

A hemorrhage occurs when a small blood vessel in your vocal folds bleeds.

Vocal Hemorrhage

Back to the Basics

There are blood vessels in everyone’s vocal folds.   These blood vessels can enlarge.  Things that make your vessels enlarge include:

  • strenuous voice use
  • hormonal changes
  • irritants (such as smoking)
  • certain medications

When your vessels are enlarged, and you have repeated, strenuous voice use, they can pop and bleed, leaking blood into your vocal fold.  This results in a vocal hemorrhage.


You can substitute “smoking” with anything that makes your vocal folds irritated (i.e., alcohol, overly-dry environment, drugs, etc). The point is that you need certain factors to make normal vocal folds hemorrhage and that several things can do it.

So that being said, what is the “cure”?

There is no cure more effective than prevention.

Eliminating these stressful factors makes your risk of any vocal injury (i.e., hemorrhage, polyps, nodules, etc) much less likely.  Focus on:

  • Good vocal technique
  • Hydration
  • Stopping smoking
  • Stopping drugs
  • Seeing a voice doctor to find enlarged vessels

The earlier you see a voice doctor (laryngologist), the earlier you can identify and correct your risks.

What is the treatment of a vocal hemorrhage?

Unfortunately, even if you control all the risks you can still hemorrhage.  For example, women are more susceptible because of the cyclic variations in hormones that occur with the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.

Thankfully, most hemorrhages resolve with voice rest alone.  Surgery is only needed if:

  • There is a large hemorrhage which will not go away with voice rest alone
  • There is an enlarged blood vessel that can be treated (to prevent future hemorrhages)

Only a laryngologist can tell you if you need a procedure or if you’ve even hemorrhaged.  The benefit of treating an enlarged vessel (i.e, with a laser) is that it can prevent future vocal hemorrhages.

Enlarged blood vessel.

Enlarged vessels can be treated with a laser to seal off the blood vessel.  Some people remove the enlarged vessels surgically.  This is likely the surgery Adele is having.  There is a benefit to her to prevent future hemorrhages, although we have to hope there is minimal damage to her voice from this procedure.

If you are in this position, make sure you find a fellowship-trained laryngologist to do your procedure.  Vocal scarring, when it occurs, is irreversible.

For more details on Adele’s surgery, please check again tomorrow!

To learn more about Dr. Reena Gupta or vocal surgeries, visit: http://www.voicedoctorla.com/

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