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.

patient and health professional discuss the surgery for cochlear implant

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?

Typically, a general anaesthetic is used. A small amount of hair may be shaved behind the ear before a small incision is made.

Your surgeon removes a small amount of bone behind your ear and places the implant under the skin. The electrode is gently placed into the inner ear.

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?

The surgery typically takes one to two hours. Patients may be able to go home the same day.

Insights from a cochlear implant surgeon

"Fortunately, surgery now has become much less involved. It's usually just about an hour in length. And I honestly consider this now a fairly minor operation."*¹

- Dr David Kelsall, Rocky Mountain Ear Center, USA *

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

After surgery, you or your child go to a recovery area until the anaesthesia wears off. This may take a few hours.

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

Usually, your dressing can be removed a day or two after your operation. You will be given instructions if any additional wound care is necessary.

You should be back to your normal activities a few days after your surgery, but you need to take extra care of the implant area.

Your hearing health professional will let you know when they can switch on your implant and pair it with a sound processor.

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."*¹

- Brian and Shelly, parents of Nora, Cochlear™ Nucleus® System recipient

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

* Materials featuring health care professionals are not intended as an endorsement or recommendation of any particular provider or service.