Recovery from cochlear implant surgery

After surgery, you will spend time recovering before your sound processor can be switched on. Learn what to expect.

What you'll find on this page

  • An overview of what to expect before and after surgery.
  • Tips for your recovery.

Preparing yourself for surgery

Making the decision to have surgery can be difficult. It's normal to feel apprehensive, but you're not alone.

Surgeons have performed Cochlear™ hearing implant procedures for almost 40 years. During that time, Cochlear has provided more than 550,000 implantable hearing devices worldwide.

There's a reason you've made the decision: to give yourself every opportunity to lead a full life.

Confidence will come from understanding what to expect after surgery and how to care for yourself or your loved one during recovery.

"[prior to cochlear implants] I wouldn’t put myself into a position where I had to answer questions. I wouldn’t go to the bank to bank money in case the teller said something and I couldn’t tell after she repeated it a few times. In fact, soon after I had my implant I went and did the banking for my husband, and the teller was talking to me and she asked, “Is anything wrong?” and I said, “No, I’m actually hearing you, and it’s wonderful.” So it’s just changed my life. And all the things I’d forgotten about; raindrops on the windows, on the windscreen, little noises like footsteps, things that normal hearing people take for granted and I hadn’t heard for so many years. I was just wonderful. Absolutely incredible."

- Shirley M, Cochlear™ Nucleus® Recipient, Australia

After your procedure

After cochlear implant surgery, your head will be wrapped in a bandage to protect the incision.

Generally, medical staff will remove the bandage prior to leaving the hospital. If it is recommended that the bandage should stay on when leaving hospital, medical staff will show you how to care for the implant site and when to remove the bandage. They will also advise you about medication prescriptions and any restrictions in activities.

After the bandage is removed, there may be some swelling around the incision. Once it heals and the swelling disappears, you may have a slightly raised bump where surgeons have placed the implant. Don't worry, this area is typically covered by hair.

Now is the time to rest and get ready for your switch-on appointment.

How to care for yourself or your loved one at home

Recovering will take time. The support of your family is vital as you prepare for life with your new hearing. Your doctor will let you know when to remove the bandage, usually a few days after surgery. If you were using two hearing aids prior to surgery, your surgeon may recommend that you continue to use your hearing aid on your non-implanted ear.

Tips to help you recover

  • Follow your doctor's instructions and take medication as directed.
  • Arrange for someone to take you home from hospital as you won't be able to drive. Ask your doctor when you'll be able to drive.
  • Ask a friend or family member to help you for a day after your surgery so you can recuperate.
  • You can shower and wash your hair one week after surgery — unless your doctor says otherwise — but not while you are still wearing a bandage. Your doctor will advise when to remove the bandage.
  • Keep water out of your ear until your doctor says it's okay.
  • Eat a healthy diet and drink lots of water to promote healing.

How long does it take to recover?

Your surgeon will want the incision to heal before your cochlear implant system is switched-on (activated). This recovery period can be as short as one day or up to six weeks.

Many people are back to their routine within a few days after surgery. However, you may want to give yourself at least a week to recover and adapt before returning to work and normal activities.

Talk to your doctor about what activities are safe for you. Most doctors advise against lifting even moderately heavy weights for a few days after surgery.

Disclaimer

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 read the instructions for use. Not all products are available in all countries. Please contact your local Cochlear representative for product information.

Views expressed are those of the individual. Consult your health professional to determine if you are a candidate for Cochlear technology.

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