Ear Surgery

Expectations after ear surgery: Following tympanoplasty, mastoidectomy, or other types of middle ear or eardrum surgery, the ear canal and the space behind the eardrum may be packed with a dissolvable material and some antibiotic ointment. It is normal for a sense of fullness or hearing loss to be present for up to a month or two after surgery. Bloody drainage from the ear is also normal for several days.

Pain after ear surgery: Typically these procedures are not severely painful. However, narcotic containing medications may be prescribed, but are not always needed. For mild discomfort, Tylenol is recommended at the age and weight appropriate doses every 6 hours, as needed. For moderate discomfort, taking 3 Ibuprofen tablets (200 mg) at the same time as the Tylenol, every 6 hours, is recommended. For severe discomfort, taking the prescribed pain pills with three 200 mg Ibuprofen tablets is recommended every 6 hours. VERY IMPORTANT – Do not take 2 Tylenol and 2 of the prescribed pain medicine at the same time. However, the option of one Tylenol and one prescribed pain pill (instead of two narcotic pain pills) with Ibuprofen works well for most patients.

The Day after surgery – If there is a plastic cup and headband, it may be removed. The cotton ball over the ear canal and gauze behind the ear can also be removed, if present. DO NOT remove any packing from deep inside the ear canal. 

The first 2 weeks of recovery:

  1. No blowing of the nose.
  2. When sneezing, keep the mouth wide open and sneeze out the mouth. If sneezing repeatedly, take generic Claritin, one tablet daily.
  3. No physical or strenuous activity such as heavy lifting or organized athletics. Children should be limited to quiet indoor play only.
  4. Three days after surgery, the patient may shower or bathe and the incision may be gently cleaned with warm soapy water. 
  5. Place a Vaseline-coated cotton ball into the outer ear canal when bathing or showering for 4 weeks, or until the surgeon says the eardrum is healed.

During the first 6 weeks of recovery – Avoid flying, scuba diving, swimming underwater, contact sports, bouncing, forceful nose blowing or sudden air pressure changes. There are no dietary restrictions unless specified by your surgeon.

Caution: Some patients experience dizziness and ringing in the involved ear following ear surgery. This typically improves within the first 24 hours but may last a few days. If it persists beyond 48 hours, please notify your surgeon. Also, sudden onset of dizziness, sudden loss of hearing, weakness of facial muscles, or a sudden increase in ringing in the ears after the first 48 hours of surgery should be immediately reported to your surgeon.