Fast Facts

Contact the surgeon if you suspect an ear infection before surgery; if the ear is infected on the day of surgery, the surgery is less likely to work and will be cancelled.

Don’t pop the ear, blow the nose hard or get the ear wet until fully healed; this may take 2 months. Don’t plan to travel by plane for at least 3 months after surgery.

Take 1-2 weeks off to recover. This includes day-care/school/sport/work/study.

Don’t remove any dressings from the ear while recovering.

What is this for and is it effective?

The surgery aims to repair a hole in the ear drum. Dr Clancy has an 86% success rate in healing the hole the first time. This means 86 out of 100 people get full healing from one operation and 14 out of 100 people need a second operation to repair the hole.

Frequently Asked Questions

What could go wrong? Is there a chance that surgery could make me worse?

Temporary side effects:   

  • 1:10 adults notice temporary change in taste after surgery.
  • 1:30 people feel sick or vomit after surgery. Two preventive drugs are given during surgery and more can be given if needed.
  • 1:50 people have an infection after surgery and need antibiotic tablets or ear drops.
  • Tinnitus (noise in the ear) may be temporarily better, worse or remain the same.
  • 1:50 people have problems healing or scar tissue causing narrowing of the ear canal.
  • The skin around the ear can be numb or have pins and needles for days to months after surgery.

Permanent side effects: 

  • 1:100 adults notice permanent change in taste. This is more common in people over fifty years of age.
  • 1:1000 people have permanent drop in hearing after surgery.
  • <1:1000 people have facial muscle weakness after surgery. Dr Clancy has not had this complication.
Could I need more surgery or treatment in the future?

Yes, the surgery may not be successful the first time; 14 out of 100 people need a second operation. Ear disease can recur and the hole can come back again a few months or a few years later. Sometimes scar tissue in the ear canal needs to be stretched or removed.

What are the alternatives to surgery? Are they appropriate for me?

This operation is elective; that means it is up to you decide whether or not you want to have surgery.

If the hole in the ear drum is small, not prone to infection and not causing hearing loss, it is safe to choose not to have surgery. You would simply need to keep using an ear plug to keep water out of the ear when swimming, showering or bathing.

If the hole is associated with hearing loss, repairing the hole may improve hearing. Alternatively a hearing aid can be used.

If the hole is complicated, for example with chronic infection or ingrowth of skin into the middle ear, it may not be safe not to have surgery.

Smokers have less chance of successful healing and often your surgeon will recommend you quit smoking before considering this procedure.

What if I choose not to have surgery?

See should I have surgery for more information.

How should I prepare for surgery?

If an infection starts within two weeks of your surgery date, contact your surgeon to have the ear cleaned and start a course of antibiotic drops and continue until the time of surgery.

Stop using any supplements and medications that increase bleeding (like Nurofen) one week before surgery and follow the fasting instructions provided by the hospital.

Stop smoking. Smokers are more likely to have side effects including heart and breathing complications, increased pain and bleeding and take longer to heal. The longer you have stopped smoking, the safer the surgery will be for you. If you smoke on the day of surgery, your surgery will be cancelled. Ask your surgeon for a Quit pack if needed. The nurses can help with nicotine patches while you are in hospital.

See preparing for surgery for more information.

When will I come into hospital? How long will the operation take? How long will I stay in hospital?

You will come into hospital on the day of surgery. The operation takes 1-2 hours depending on the size and shape of the hole and the ear canal. You will go home the next day after surgery.

How long will I need off work/school/sport?

You need one to two weeks off work (or school/kinder/day-care), sport and study. You should not drive for at least 24 hours after a general anaesthetic or on any day when taking strong pain killers.

You won’t be able to swim or travel by plane until the ear is completely healed. This can take up to three months.

Will I be awake or asleep for the operation? What kind of anaesthetic will I have?

Children and adults always have a general anaesthetic for this procedure.

See anaesthesia for more information.

How will I feel after surgery?

You will have a bandage around your head for 24 hours. There will be a dressing like a plug in the ear canal for several weeks; this will make the ear feel blocked. You may have mild pain in the temple or with chewing. Pain lasts for a few days and is usually mild.

What do I need to do to recover well?

The better you eat, the better you heal. Aim to eat as normally as possible, including vegetables and solid food as well as drinking water.

Keep the ear completely dry. Don’t blow the nose hard, pop the ear or travel by plane until the surgeon advises you the ear is fully healed.

Don’t remove any dressings from the ear canal or behind the ear. Apply ear drops twice a day to the dressings in the ear canal.

When will I see the surgeon?

The surgeon will check on you in the recovery room and often on the ward before you go home from hospital. You will see the surgeon one week after surgery then every 1-2 weeks until fully healed.

You will have a hearing test 3 months after surgery.

What should I do if I need help or advice?

You can ring the surgeon or practice nurse during business hours on 55605411. For non emergency advice outside business hours, ring the nurse at the hospital where you had surgery. For urgent care outside business hours, attend your nearest emergency department.

Click here for information about Dr Clancy’s on call schedule.

Is there any more information specific to my situation?

Your surgeon will take into consideration your work, sports/hobbies, support at home and other health problems as well as past reactions or complications with anaesthesia and surgery.

Your surgeon will answer any specific questions you ask.

After major ear surgery

You need one to two weeks off work (or school/kinder/day-care), sport and study. You should not drive for at least 24 hours after a general anaesthetic or on any day when taking strong pain killers. You won’t be able to swim or travel by plane until the ear is completely healed. This can take up to three months.

What do I need to do to recover well?
  • The better you eat, the better you heal. Aim to eat as normally as possible, including vegetables and solid food as well as drinking water.
  • Rest sitting up or reclining at 45 degrees to reduce pressure and swelling.
  • Keep the ear completely dry. Don’t insert an ear plug until the surgeon tells you it is safe to do so.
  • Don’t blow the nose hard, pop the ear, swim or travel by plane until the surgeon advises you the ear is fully healed.
  • Don’t remove any dressings from the ear canal or behind the ear. Apply Ciloxan ear drops, 5 drops twice a day onto the dressings in the ear canal.
  • Take Augmentin DF one tablet twice a day for 10 days or Keflex one tablet twice a day for 10 days.
  • For pain, take paracetamol 1-2 tablets every 4-6 hours as needed (no more than 8 tablets per day). If pain persists, add Endone 1-2 tablets every 4-6 hours as needed.
What is normal? How will I feel after surgery?
  • You will have a bandage around your head for 24 hours. There will be a dressing like a plug in the ear canal for several weeks; this will make the ear feel blocked. There will be mild blood stained or watery discharge for 2 weeks from the ear canal.
  • You may have mild pain in the temple or with chewing. Pain lasts for a few days and is usually mild.
  • You may notice temporary change in taste on one side of the tongue.
  • The skin around the ear will feel numb or like pins and needles for weeks to months after surgery.
  • You may have nausea or vertigo for a few days after surgery. Take care to steady yourself and get up slowly.
  • Tinnitus (noise in the ear) may be temporarily better, worse or remain the same.
What is not normal?

Contact your surgeon if you have:

  • vomiting or vertigo/head spins lasting more than a few hours.
  • severe pain not relieved by the prescribed pain relief.
  • fever >38 degrees for more than 24 hours.
  • swelling behind the ear.
  • pus running out of the ear.
  • headache, neck stiffness, eye pain on looking at light.

In an emergency, call an ambulance or attend your nearest hospital emergency department.

What should I do if I need help or advice?

You can ring the surgeon or practice nurse during business hours on 55605411. For non emergency advice outside business hours, ring the nurse at the hospital where you had surgery. For urgent care outside business hours, attend your nearest emergency department.

Click here for information about Dr Clancy’s on call schedule.

Is there any more information specific to my situation?

The surgeon will include any extra information specific to you.

explaining myringoplasty