Types of eardrum repair procedure
The procedure you have will depend on the extent of your eardrum perforation and a specialist will be able to determine the best option for you, as well as talking you through what to expect, any risks, and recovery time with you in greater detail. There are two types of eardrum surgery: myringoplasty and tympanoplasty.
If there is a small hole or tear, it may be patched up using gel or paper-like tissue. This is a fairly minor procedure and can be carried out with a local anaesthetic. A myringoplasty could also involve a kind of tissue graft in order to repair the perforation. This would happen in hospital under general anaesthetic.
Recovery should take a couple of weeks and you’ll have a follow-up appointment to make sure everything is progressing as it should. During recovery time you should avoid flying, swimming, blowing your nose hard or smoking.
Tympanoplasty can also repair a perforated eardrum, but is usually associated with other middle ear conditions. It is typically required if there is a larger hole in the eardrum and is carried out in hospital under general anaesthetic.
This type of surgery can take a couple of hours and involves taking a tissue graft from the area surrounding the ear in order to repair the hole in the eardrum. As with a myringoplasty, you should avoid flying, swimming, blowing your nose hard or smoking during your recovery time.
How severe can a perforated eardrum be?
In some cases, a perforated eardrum could lead to further problems, such as:
A cyst in your middle ear (cholesteatoma)
When to see a hearcare specialist
If you think you have a perforated eardrum, or you’re experiencing any ear pain or discomfort, it’s best to go and see your GP.
Although a perforated eardrum will normally heal on its own, your doctor will have a good look in your ear to check for any signs of infection and determine the extent of the damage if possible. If it takes more than a few weeks to heal, your GP might recommend further treatment or repair surgery
Causes of a damaged eardrum
Eardrum damage can be caused by a number of things, including:
Ear injury – for example, a direct hit to the ear, or if you put something like a cotton bud too far into your ear
A sudden loud noise – like an explosion
Changes in air pressure when you’re flying or diving (ear barotrauma)
It will usually take a few weeks for your eardrum to heal and recover after surgery. You’ll be given advice on how to look after your ear after surgery, and be asked to return for a follow-up appointment to make sure everything is on track.
While eardrum surgery is usually available on the NHS in the UK, you can also choose to have private surgery. Costs will depend on the type of procedure you have. If you have medical insurance, it’s worth checking if eardrum surgery is covered with your provider.
Most cases of eardrum damage will heal on its own after a few weeks without treatment. Eardrum repair is only required if it takes longer to heal, or if the extent of the hole or tear requires further treatment.