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A tympanoplasty is an ear surgery that repairs a hole in the eardrum or fixes the bones of hearing. The surgery itself takes about an hour to an hour and a half. It’s an outpatient surgery so you’ll go home that day. Patients typically rest at home for 2-3 days before returning to work. The hearing doesn’t come back instantaneously, however. It gradually returns over 2-3 months.

What Causes the Need for a Tympanoplasty?

A hole after tubes is the most common reason a patient might get a tympanoplasty. A hole in the eardrum can cause a patient to have repeat infections or a hearing loss. The loss is called a conductive hearing loss. Additionally, patients that have a hole in the eardrum should avoid getting water in the ear to prevent infections.

What to Know Before the Surgery

Don’t eat anything after midnight on the morning of your surgery. Why? For this surgery, you will be put under general anesthesia. If you were to vomit while under anesthesia, it could enter your lungs and cause many problems.
Remove all makeup prior to your surgery.

What Happens During the Surgery?

You will be put under general anesthesia, and the ear will be cleaned and prepped before surgery.

At the start of surgery, the surgeon will make a C-shaped cut around the back of the ear. At Arizona Hearing Center, we refer to it as a “barber’s incision” or “hairdresser incision” since only your barber or hairdresser will look behind your ears. The surgeon will then flip your ear over. Through the incision, the surgeon cuts out a small piece of dense, fibrous chewing muscle above your ear.

The surgeon will then move to your ear canal. Then he will expose the ear canal and eardrum by pulling the skin away from the canal and sometimes widen the canal if it is too narrow.

Once the eardrum is visible, the surgeon will roughen up the edges of the eardrum to remove scar tissue and promote healing.

Through that hole, the surgeon will tap the bones of hearing to check that they are properly functioning. If they are not, the surgeon may fix the bones or insert prosthetic bones while the eardrum is still open.

Packing made of dissolvable material will be put behind the perforated eardrum, in the middle ear. Then the tissue will be placed flush against the existing eardrum, propped up by packing inside the middle ear. More of the packing is placed in front of the tissue so that the tissue is held down from both sides.

Lastly, the surgeon will flip the ear back over, fill the ear with packing, and place stitches along the incision.

During a follow-up appointment, the packing outside the eardrum will be removed. The hearing in that ear may take a few months to come back since the packing inside the eardrum has to dissolve for the ear to function again.