Cochlear implant surgery

Getting a cochlear implant for you or your child is a big decision, so it’s important to know what to expect before, during and after surgery.

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What you'll find on this page

  • Summary of how surgeons perform cochlear implant surgery.
  • Information about recovering from a cochlear implant operation.

What happens during cochlear implant surgery?

After a general anaesthetic, your surgeon makes a small incision behind your ear. Sometimes they shave a very small amount of hair.

Your surgeon then places the implant under your skin and inserts the electrode array into your inner ear. Tests are run to ensure the implant is working.

When your surgeon confirms everything is fine, they close the incision. They often use dissolvable stitches, so you may have no stitches to remove later.

How long does a cochlear implant operation take?

Getting a cochlear implant takes approximately one hour per ear. It may be done as an outpatient procedure.

"Since having a cochlear implant, my life has changed tremendously. And I feel more confident than I did before."

- Jarrod, Cochlear™ implant recipient

How long does it take to recover from a cochlear implant operation?

After surgery, you or your child go to a recovery area until your anaesthesia wears off. This generally take a few hours. When you or your child wake up, there is a big bandage around your/their head. This will be removed before you go home.

As this happens, you may feel a little pressure or discomfort around your implant area and it may be a little numb. Once your medical team is happy with your recuperation, you can go home.

You should discuss with your surgeon beforehand how many days you may need to prepare to take off work after the operation, although recovery is usually quite quick.

Your doctor will let you know when they can activate your implant by turning on your sound processor. This waiting period is to let the implant area heal.

Cochlear recipient Nora and her family

"Knowing how much it was going to help her was worth every fear that we had with surgery day. It wasn't as scary as we thought."

- Brian and Shelly, parents of Nora, Cochlear implant recipient


Please seek advice from your health professional about treatments for hearing loss. Outcomes may vary, and your health professional will advise you about the factors which could affect your outcome. Always follow the directions for use. Not all products are available in all countries. Please contact your local Cochlear representative for product information.

For a full list of Cochlear’s trademarks, please visit our Terms of Use page.

In Australia, Cochlear™ Nucleus® implant systems are intended for the treatment of moderately severe to profound hearing loss.

In Australia, Baha® bone conduction implant systems are intended for the treatment of moderate to profound hearing loss.

In Australia, the Cochlear™ Osia® System is indicated for patients with conductive, mixed hearing loss and single-sided sensorineural deafness (SSD) aged 10 years and above with up to 55 decibels sensorineural hearing loss. Patients should have sufficient bone quality and quantity to support successful implant placement. Surgery is required to use this product. Any surgical procedure carries risk.

For Cochlear™ Nucleus®, Osia® and Baha® systems: This product is not available for purchase by the general public. For information on funding and reimbursement please contact your health care professional.

Any testimonial featured on this website is intended for an Australian audience only.