Patients preparing for ear surgery can expect a variety of things, depending on the type of surgery being performed. Some surgeries may be more invasive, requiring general anesthesia, while others may be performed under sedation or with a local anesthesia. Healing times vary and patients may need to use special rinses, medications, and other prescribed aftercare methods while they are recovering from surgery. Patients concerned about a specific surgery should talk with their surgeons to get more information.
Before ear surgery of any kind takes place, the patient will have a consultation with a surgeon. The surgeon will talk about the surgery to make sure the patient understands what is being done and why. Patients may need to start taking prophylactic medications to prevent infection before surgery and may need to discontinue medications like blood thinners to reduce surgical risk. If the procedure calls for general anesthesia or sedation, the patient's doctor will run blood tests to make sure this is safe, and ask the patient about allergies. A complete medical history is used to identify surgical risks so the surgical team can prepare.
On the day of the surgery itself, the patient will check in to a hospital or clinic. Consent forms will need to be signed and the surgeon will come in to mark up the ear. These marks are used for safety, to confirm the type of procedure being performed, and as guidance during surgery. For surgeries involving local anesthesia, the patient may be given some sedation to stay calm, and the head will be positioned in a cradle to make it easy for the surgeon to access. The patient is awake and alert, and may be able to communicate with the surgical team. Sedation and general anesthesia patients will be less aware or unconscious.
The length of ear surgery varies, as does the complexity. Once the surgeon is done, the site can be cleaned and bandaged, and the anesthesia will be counteracted or allowed to wear off. Patients usually need to wait in recovery while they are monitored for signs of adverse reactions or immediate complications. Once cleared, they can be released. For some surgeries, a brief hospital stay may be required.
At home, patients may expect a variety of things. Ear surgery sometimes requires the placement of drains to allow fluids to exit the ear while the patient heals, and these will need to cared for. Antibiotics are often prescribed to prevent infection, and patients may need to be careful about bathing and cleaning the ear in the early stages of healing. The surgeon will request a follow-up to check on the progress, where it's an otoplasty ear surgery to change the shape of the ear or a hearing aid implant for a patient with hearing loss.