The Operation

Before the operation, you will be given a general anaesthetic. After which the hair behind the ear is shaved in a very small area. The operation takes place in theatre and will take between two and five hours to complete, but normally, in straightforward cases, it will take approximately two hours. You will wake up with a large bandage on your head. A follow up surgery appointment in Outpatients usually takes place about one week after the operation.


Recovery after the operation is variable but most patients feel better very quickly. Most patients do not suffer significant pain after the operation. You are required to check into the ward usually the day before surgery and you will usually remain in hospital for one to two nights after the surgery. Once your hair has grown back and your scar has healed, the only evidence of the operation will be a small bump just behind the ear. You will be advised to avoid heavy nose blowing for 2 weeks after surgery.

Risks and side effects

A cochlear implant operation carries the same slight risk as other ear surgery. You should, however, be aware of the following possible side effects:-

  • The risks associated with having a general anaesthetic
  • Temporary dizziness and/or temporary disturbance of balance
  • Temporary increase in tinnitus
  • Numbness in area of scar
  • Change in taste sensation
  • A risk of infection

Facial nerve bruising: This nerve running near the site of surgery is carefully monitored throughout the operation. This ensures that bruising of the facial nerve is highly unlikely.

There is the possibility that the implant may break down in the future, in which case a further operation would be necessary to replace it.

If you are particularly concerned about any of the above risks you should discuss them with one of the doctors.

Once you have a cochlear implant there are some safety guidelines to consider.