Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

Postoperative Instructions for Ear Surgery

After ear surgery (tympanoplasty, ossicular chain reconstruction, or tympanoplasty with mastoidectomy):

  • If you have a head bandage on, make sure it is not squeezing your head too tight. You should be able to slide a finger underneath it. The bandage should be removed 24 hours after surgery. You may then begin to bathe and wash your hair gently with shampoo.
  • Begin using the antibiotic eardrops the day after surgery (three drops in the ear twice a day). These drops will dissolve the packing that is in your ear. Tip your head to the side when using them to allow them to get into your ear.
  • Bloody, watery, or oily discharge from the ear is normal for several weeks after surgery. You may leave a dry cotton ball in your ear to prevent drainage if you like.
  • Do not get water in your ear until your doctor has told you that your ear is healed. This usually takes 1-3 months. You should put a cotton ball moistened with Vaseline in your ear when you bathe.
  • Do not blow your nose. The pressure may blow open the repair. It is OK to perform light work the day after surgery, but do not do any straining or heavy lifting until your ear has healed.
  • You may expect to have mild dizziness when you turn your head for a few days after surgery.
  • Most people like to take at least 1-2 days off of work or school after surgery. Some feel like returning the day after surgery; some prefer a week off.
  • See Tympanic Membrane, Middle Ear and Mastoid Disease for additional information.