19 Famous Singers Who Had Vocal Surgery

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When you’re a singer, your voice is your instrument. It’s the glue that holds it all together, so when something comes along that threatens that, it’s no doubt a really frightening thing to undergo.

From burst blood vessels to nodules and even cancer, these singers have not shied away from their experiences, with some coming out for the better while others had a much longer journey. For one, it proved the end of a beautiful voice we all loved.

Here is our list of 19 famous singers who had vocal surgery.

1. Miley Cyrus

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Back in 2007, Miley Cyrus successfully portrayed what it might be like for a singer to risk everything and undergo surgery to repair damaged vocal cords in the Hannah Montana episode “I Am Hannah, Hear Me Croak.” We’re betting she didn’t expect to be going through the same in her own life.

The “Wrecking Ball” singer underwent vocal cord surgery in November 2019. After a successful surgery, she had to remain silent for several weeks until everything healed. After healing, Cyrus later revealed that the experience helped her find sobriety from alcohol and drugs. “I kind of learned a lot about the voice and how our experiences affect our voice.”

Related: 17 Fun Miley Cyrus Facts Flying in Like a Wrecking Ball

2. Adele

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Adele is arguably the most popular among our famous singers who had vocal surgery list. Known for such hits as “Make You Feel My Love,” “Set Fire to the Rain,” and “Skyfall,” her voice is iconic.

In October 2011, she underwent a scary procedure when doctors had to alleviate recurring hemorrhages caused by a polyp in her vocal cord. While the polyp was benign, the surgery was still risky. Thankfully, she came out of it with no effects, and, according to Rolling Stone, she came out of it with a voice “palpably bigger and purer-toned.”

Related: 20 Best Adele Songs

3. John Mayer

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John Mayer isn’t just one of the famous singers who had vocal surgery; he’s one of the famous singers who has had two vocal surgeries. It all began on September 16, 2011, when he was forced to delay the progress of his Born and Raised album due to a granuloma on his vocal cords.

A month later, he revealed he underwent surgery, posting to social media, “I had surgery this afternoon to remove [the granuloma] and am now on complete vocal rest for a month or more.” Unfortunately, the initial surgery was unsuccessful, undergoing another surgery not long after. Thankfully, the second took, and the “Your Body is a Wonderland” singer is better than ever.  

Related: 12 Best John Mayer Songs

4. Julie Andrews

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While mainly an actress, we couldn’t have a famous singers who had vocal surgery list without including Dame Julie Andrews, considering it was her roles in beloved musicals like The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins that made the world fall in love with her.

Unfortunately, unlike the other singers on our list, her experience with vocal surgery did not end well. After undergoing surgery to treat a growing hoarseness in her voice in 1997 caused by “a certain kind of muscular striation [that] happens on the vocal cords,” Andrews explained. Sadly, the surgery resulted in permanent damage to her singing voice, and her once pure soprano sound was destroyed.

She later filed a malpractice suit in 1999 against the Mount Sinai Hospital doctors who operated on her. In September 2000, the lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount of money.

Related: 44 Most Famous Actresses

5. Rod Stewart

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Rod Stewart’s journey with vocal surgery, although ultimately coming out with a better outcome than Julie Andrews, was still no easy road. In May 2000, he had to undergo surgery to treat thyroid cancer. While the surgery was successful, he had to relearn how to sing.

“It was scary because I couldn’t sing a note,” Stewart later said of the experience. “You know, they chop right through your throat, all the muscles are torn apart, and they’ve all got memories, so they have to remember again. … It took me six months to get it back again.”

Related: 16 Crazy Facts About Rod Stewart

6. Celine Dion

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Celine Dion is a classic vocalist gifting the world with songs like “My Heart Will Go On,” “I’m Your Angel,” and “Because You Loved Me” throughout her career. She’s faced vocal surgery more than once in her career.

The first time, in 1989, after injuring her voice during a concert, doctors told her to either have surgery immediately or be on complete vocal rest for three weeks. Well, Dion chose the latter and successfully avoided the need for surgery. She was lucky again in 2012 when vocal rest healed inflammation of her vocal cords. Unfortunately, in 2018, she was no longer able to avoid surgery.

Although the surgery was focused on fixing a problem called Patulous Eustachian tube, “which causes hearing irregularities and makes it extremely difficult to sing,” Dion explained, it still kept a heavy weight over her singing career.

Related: 15 Interesting Facts About Celine Dion

7. Justin Timberlake

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Nodules on the vocal cords claim another person on our list of famous singers who had vocal surgery. “Can’t Stop the Feeling” singer Justin Timberlake underwent a procedure in May 2005. After a few months of rest, he was back and better than ever.

Later in 2018, he also suffered from bruised vocal cords, but he was able to get by with simple rest this time around.

Related: Who is Justin Timberlake?

8. Sam Smith

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Following damage from a small hemorrhage on Sam Smith’s vocal cords, which began causing damage, the “Money on My Mind” singer underwent surgery in 2015.

At the time, Smith told fans, “Dear all: I am very upset to announce I have been battling to get my vocal cords better the last 10 days, but unfortunately, they haven’t recovered, and I am going to need surgery. I’m so gutted to be missing all the shows and events I was meant to be playing at. The doctors say I will be back in 6-8 weeks, and I cannot wait to sing for you all soon.”

Related: Sam Smith Gilds Entire Xcel Energy Center

9. Keith Urban

keith urban
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Keith Urban is one of the most popular male vocalists in country music with his upbeat hits like “Days Go By” and “Where the Blacktop Ends” and romantic ballads like “Memories of Us” and “Raining on Sunday.”

Fortunately for Urban, his vocal surgery to remove a nodule and polyp from his vocal cords in 2012 improved his singing voice. “It’s an extraordinary feeling of freedom. I don’t have to push the pedal down to 70 mph to reach those notes anymore.”

Related: 46 Tallest Country Singers

10. Christina Perri

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Christina Perri, known for songs like “Jar of Hearts” and “A Thousand Years” from Twilight, had a long wait to get the help her vocal cords needed. Although a cyst on her vocal cords was discovered in 2010, it took a year for her to receive the surgery.

After a year of warmups and various syrups and sprays to maintain her voice before the surgery, Perri said she is now more conscious of her vocal health in general. “I almost lost it all, so that is maybe why my appreciation for it is so large. I now do everything that I need to do to have the best voice I can that day.”

Related: The 18 Best Wedding Songs

11. Steven Tyler

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Remember when Aerosmith had to cancel the final leg of their Rockin’ the Joint Tour in 2006? That’s because lead singer Steven Tyler had to undergo vocal surgery to fix bleeding from a blown blood vessel.

While that surgery was successful, in 2023, it was confirmed that Tyler was having more vocal problems. Although surgery hasn’t been confirmed, the “Walk This Way” band confirmed on social media that “his injuries are more serious than initially thought.” Additionally, doctors “confirmed that in addition to the damage to his vocal cords, he fractured his larynx, which requires ongoing care. He is receiving the best medical treatment available to ensure his recovery is swift, but given the nature of a fracture, he is being told patience is essential.”

Related: Steven Tyler’s Net Worth

12. Mariah Carey

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Of all the famous singers who had vocal surgery, Mariah Carey’s experience seems to be the most minor. While rumors about problems with her vocal cords have plagued her career, her 2011 surgery was minimal and successful after surgeons successfully removed a benign vocal cord lesion.

There have also been rumors of her suffering from nodules and polyps, though it’s unknown if surgery was required to treat them. Nonetheless, the “Hero” singer has never let her vocal cord problems affect her career. She’s still the “Songbird Supreme,” as the Guinness World Records affectionately refers to her.

Related: Who is Mariah Carey?

13. Björk

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Unlike many famous singers who had vocal surgery, Björk was apparently excited about her surgery. After revealing that she underwent surgery in 2012 to remove a polyp, the “Army of Me” singer wrote on her website, “I have to say, in my case anyway: surgery rocks!”

“I stayed quiet for three weeks and then started singing and definitely feel like my cords are as good as pre-nodule,” she added.  

14. Michael Bublé

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We love everything about Michael Bublé’s voice. No matter if he’s singing “Haven’t Met You Yet” or “Home,” our hearts simply melt. That’s what made it so scary for fans to find out that he would be canceling a lineup of performances in 2016 to undergo vocal cord surgery. 

He later revealed, “The moment that I woke up from surgery, the doctor told me that it wasn’t as invasive as he’d first thought and that everything was completely fine and better than expected,” he said. “That was a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders.” 

Now, “sometimes I forget I even had it done,” he added. “I feel so much stronger than I did then.” 

15. Luciano Pavarotti

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Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti earned his legendary status as one of the most acclaimed tenors of all time, thanks to his work both in operas and popular music. His classic voice eventually earned him the nickname “King of the High Cs.”

The world almost didn’t get to know his famous voice, however, had he kept with his decision to quit singing after doctors discovered nodules on his vocal cords when he was young. Eventually, with treatment, the problem was resolved, and the world was given a gift because of it.

16. Elton John

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Elton John may have had to undergo throat surgery in 1987 for an unknown reason (some speculated cancer and some speculated nodules), but it didn’t keep him down.

By 2004, the “Candle in the Wind” singer confirmed the former as he told Billboard, “My voice is the thing that’s really improved the most over the last few years. There’s more resonance to it. It started to change when I had the operation in Australia after the live album because of the nine cancerous whatever it was on my vocal cords.”

Related: 30 Crazy Facts About Elton John

17. Shirley Manson

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Shirley Manson, best known for being the lead singer of Garbage, an alternative rock band, fought hard to avoid her vocal surgery after a suspicious cyst was found. While she turned down the first surgeon, she eventually found another doctor in New York who could remove it in a less invasive way.

“One specialist said, ‘We’re going to cut this off, but you need to know that there are serious risks involved. We may have to squeeze your vocal cords,’” Manson explained. “At which point, I was immediately like, ‘I don’t want to have anything to do with you. I’m not going to sound the same again.’

“It was a risk, but it all worked out in the end.”

18. Tove Lo

famous singers who had vocal surgery
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Swedish singer and songwriter Tove Lo, best known for her grunge-style pop music, was forced to take a short hiatus from her career in December 2014 when she had to have cysts removed from her vocal cords.

The “Habits (Stay High)” singer later told Rolling Stone how difficult it was to undergo. “I was stuck for two months doing voice rehab and [expletive] losing my mind. I was like, ‘What if my voice doesn’t come back?’” No worries on that front any longer, my dear.

Related: Tove Lo heats up Palace Theatre

19. Meghan Trainor

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Meghan Trainor has Sam Smith, a fellow famous singer who had vocal surgery, to thank for taking the risk of going under the knife. After vocal problems forced her to cancel shows, she finally had to face the music, and she said it left her in crisis at first.

“I felt like I was going through a crisis,” she said. “I was sad. I had to get rid of my pet cats at the same time because my doctor was like, ‘You’re allergic, and I’m not giving you the surgery unless you get rid of them.’ … I lost my cats, I lost everything. I was on top of the world with ‘All About That Bass,’ and then I was at the bottom.”

Thankfully, all was well again once the surgery was over.

“Once my voice came back from the surgery, it was stronger than ever,” she said.

Related: Why Won’t Meghan Trainor Go Away?

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Written by Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth in 2015. She has worked in journalism since 2015, beginning as production assistant and eventual head staff writer of the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Currently, she is a multimedia journalist with the Diocese of Nashville's Office of Media and Evangelization where she writes, does photography, and edits for several types of content, including the Tennessee Register, Catholic Awakenings, and She has also worked as a freelance journalist with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas's newspaper, The Leaven, since 2016.
In her spare time, Peterson enjoys reading, spending time with her pup, Sadie Lynn, singing and songwriting.


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