Archive for the 'Tympanoplasty' Category

Cholesteatoma Information

A lot of people come across my blog searching for information about tympanoplasty recovery. A reader recently wrote in with his perspective on a cholesteatoma that I feel needs highlighting. Although I don’t agree with Shea’s assessment of anesthesia, it’s a valuable piece of writing. It’s reposted after the jump.

Continue reading ‘Cholesteatoma Information’

Quick Note

I visited the surgeon who performed my Tympanoplasty (now, several years ago). He said my ear drum is still looking good, and my hearing is the same as it was a year ago. I am, of course, very thankful.

I’ll see him again in a year.

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I encourage you to read this and this, and optionally, the posts in between.)

Nice Words from New Friends

Starting out with Alison:

Hi I am Alison, from Cheshire England. had my surgery on 26th November, a tympanoplasty with new ear bones and also closing up of the mastoid cavity left by a previuos op 17 years ago. was extremely apprehensive beforehand, but surgery went well and I came home same evening. Sneezed that night and panicked as ear bled all night, went back to see my lovely surgeon following day and he checked it, all seems OK. Things healing nicely now it seems, but my hearing is odd – I can hear things at high pitch in my ear, which I couldn’t before, but they are on a slight time delay, almost like an echo. Does this settle down when packing dissolves etc? Back to hospital on 18th for another check up, still off work and will probably stay off for 4 weeks to ensure I don’t catch any infection or swine flu from work colleagues! Even if my hearing doesn’t improve, then I will be able to swim etc without fear of ear infection, something I have not been able to do since I was a child. Hope you are all recovering well too. Alison

Hello Alison! It’s been more than a month since your tympanoplasty and related procedures. I regret not being able to get back to you sooner; please accept my apology. Hopefully by now you’ve realized that waiting for the packing to dissolve is actually the entire endgame of this procedure. As time goes by, I believe that many of the odd sensations you’re feeling will go away. The packing does some weird things. I cannot emphasize enough how odd that packing can feel.

Please come back and let us know how you’re doing.

Christi wrote:

Thanks for the pics of the headgear! I was not expecting that. I go next Friday. It’ll be the 18th. I am hoping I feel better before Christmas!!! How long was it before you could exercise? Thanks

Hopefully you are doing well, too! It was a few months before I could exercise, unfortunately. Well worth the wait.

Jenny wrote:

I had tympanoplasty surgery the exact same way you did 3 weeks ago. My hearing came back within a week but the gelfoam and goop is still in there. Thats what I’m worried about. I had it check today and he still can not see my eardrum. I had zero pain with the entire experience but I’m a little sketchy about him going in and removing it. Is it extremely painful????

Although everyone has a different pain tolerance, I want to assure you that it isn’t extremely painful. Trust your doctor; he or she is a doctor for a reason.

Daniel wrote:

Hey Richard, I’m scheduled to get a tympanoplasty on January 5th and I’ve done a lot of research on it. Firstly, I’d like to thank you for posting all this stuff about your surgery and recovery. It’s been really helpful to me in understanding exactly what it is that I’m getting myself into. I right ear drum was perforated when I was about 14 and I’m 19 now, so it’s been a few years and I’ve had to deal with the ear infections and avoiding getting water in it for all that time. It’s really quite a bother in the shower and prevents me from swimming, which is something I love, as well as the girls in the bikinis (haha :P ). Anyway, seeing as how you went through all of this already, I was wondering if you could answer one of my major questions with a unique perspective, seeing as to how you had to deal with it (my tympanoplasty will be done by going into the ear from making the incision behind the ear, not through the ear canal, by the way). After your surgery, how did you manage to wash your ear and hair in the shower without getting water/soap/shampoo on or in the wound or your ear?

Daniel, you’re very welcome. It’s been my pleasure  to document the experience.

This is an excellent question! Similarly, my tympanoplasty was done with an incision behind the ear, which as you’ve already anticipated, can lead to some interesting complications with bathing.

For several weeks, my bathing experience was very different than what I was used to. For the first week, I didn’t bathe my hair. After that, my mom helped me wash my hair in a sink of our house. I put cotton balls in my ear, laid a sterile pad over that, and finally firmly pressed a cup over that sterile pad. It’s odd to picture, but think of the cotton ball as a last defense, and the sterile pad and the cup as a “sealed” protection layer from water. As I held that contraption together, my mom carefully washed my hair, avoiding the area close to my ear.

It worked pretty well for me. That is, I never got my ear wet. Please come back and let us know how your procedure goes! With a little time you’ll be back on the beach enjoying all there is to see and do.

Thanks for the feedback, everyone! I appreciate it.

Awesome Tympanoplasty Feedback

Awesome feedback from Sam M. A highly recommended read for the Tympanoplasty crowd.

Hey Everyone, I am Sam, I am 27 and live in London, England.

Thanks for all the useful information on this site. I had my Tympanoplasty on Friday afternoon. I felt no real pain until the early hours of Sunday morning and I have been on painkillers every 4-5 hours since (it’s now Tuesday evening). I am experiencing sharp stabbing pains, throbbing which is like listening to your own pulse, my head also feels like it is in a bubble, diziness and a sore jaw and also a strange numbness in my tastebuds on the right side of my tongue. From reading everyone elses stories this would appear quite normal and all part of the healing process.

I had a myringoplasty (I believe its a similar procedure) around 14 years ago. This was unsuccessful due to infection. After 14 years of worsening infections and some hearing loss I elected to have surgery again and hope this will releive the infections. Without wanting to sound unpleasant having discharge running out of your ear every few weeks was beginning to get me down. I am hoping that if this attempt is successful I will be able to swim and wash my hair without fearing I may trigger yet another ear infection.

I am glad I stumbled across this site and feel that through reading others experiences I have been able to put my worries to rest. The pain I am experiencing appears as normal as it can be!

Thanks for your help and good luck to anyone else going through this x

Thanks, Sam!

Another Piece of Great Feedback


Richard thanks for your article. Around July8th, I was surfing, and was tossed straight to the bottom, left side of my head first. The impact, and the hydraulic pressure caused by a earful of seawater caused my eardrum to rip away from the edges, not typical, they say. If you look at a clock face, from 9 o’clock to 4-5o’clock was peeled back, like halfway peeling the seal from a yogurt container foil seal.

I knew what had happened immediately, as I had a very slight traumatic perforation in 1998, when thrown from a Jet Ski. It was two little holes near the middle of the eardrum, which healed on their own. When you perforate your tympanic membrane in water, you lose all sense of balance, the first time in ‘98 I struggled, the recent one I nearly drowned, as the impact was so hard, it sent seawater through my Eustachian Tube and into my throat. I was in 3-4 feet of water and could not stand up, it was a bit scary.

Knowing what had happened, I finally got out of the water, and told my wife, “we have to go to a doctor, I perforated my eardrum”. She gave a weird look, and asked when.

“Now”, I said. We gathered the children, dropped them off with my sister in law and headed to the beach doctor.

Of course they sent a Physician Assistant to come see me. I told her what happened, she looked in my ear, and ZIP, BANG, she was off to find a doctor.

They gave me Vicodin, and some Antibiotic drops, and said it would heal on it’s own. Funny thing, they assumed this without seeing the hole. “We can’t tell how big it is because of all the blood in there, but it’ll be okay”.

A month later, no improvement, and a pending job offer is temporarily declined, until i get it fixed. I go to an ENT. He said the first doctor was a bit negligent with his “it’ll be okay” diagnosis. I was scheduled for Tympanoplasty.

My surgery was today, technically yesterday morning. They were able to use tissue from my Tragus to use as a patch. They also were able to do everything through my ear canal, so I didn’t have to get my ear half cut off to get it fixed; this was relieving.

Right now I’m bandaged like in your picture above. In the morning, I go to see the ENT Doctor/Surgeon (same guy). I have a ton of questions, as it affects my employment, but also stuff like, swimming, flying, sneezing, etc; when can I do those again?

Sorry for the long post, but I’ll come back here with follow up info, as your site was the first to pop up on Google, and was helpful to me. I’m 35 years old by the way. Thank you.


I really enjoyed this feedback. Robert, you’re welcome, and I hope you heal up perfectly! I cannot even imagine what it must have felt like to have that happen. The fact that you knew you had perforated is remarkable.

Nice Words

Written by Kevin Cawthern a few days ago:

Dear Richard:

Thanks for this incredibly helpful blog! My 9 year-old son (adopted from Russia) has two perforated eardrums, and is undergoing surgery with the very same Dr. Meiteles tomorrow morning (right ear) at 6 am.

I suspect he got the perforations from infections at the orphanage, and has been getting recurrent infections (about 6-7 per year) since he has been in the US (roughly 3.5 years). As a result, he really needs this to protect him from further hearing loss, and your roadmap to recovery is very helpful for his mom and me.

My concerns are for preparing a little boy for the surgery and recovery, and eliciting his cooperation in keeping mobility to a minimum. In addition, he loves to go swimming, and being summer, this will be hard to live without. So I envision difficulty for us in keeping him calm and sneeze-free. We have him daily on Claritin, but colds may be difficult to avoid.

We have given him little info until now, since most of it is scary and he would be terrified mulling over it, and might even have nightmares abot it. We are planning to give him an upbeat but matter of fact discussion about what to expect tomorrow, but we want him to remain as positive as possible. We will incorporate your observations of the healing process and mileposts to success to tell him what he should expect.

If you have any wisdom for us to share with a small boy about to undertake this big step, I would be happy to hear it. But at any rate, your posts have been helpful to us, and they give us hope our outcome with Dr. Meiteles will be as good as yours.

I wish you continued good fortune and success at Tufts, and thank you for this blog.

You’re very welcome. It’s feedback like this that makes this all worth it.