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The membrane that separates your outer ear from your inner ear is called the tympanic membrane or ear drum. A hole or tear in your ear drum may be uncomfortable but they usually heal on their own.

Your ear drum converts vibrations into sound. It also helps protect your inner ear. 

Very severe perforations may require surgical repair called a myringoplasty.

What happens during ear drum repair?

Ear drum repair is usually done under general anaesthetic. Your length of stay will depend on how severe your ear drum is perforated.

Your surgeon will use a piece of your own tissue from above your ear (a skin graft) to patch the perforation. They will use very fine instruments and a tiny microscope to position the graft. Sometimes they will access your ear drum through an incision (cut) made just behind your ear.

A dressing will be placed in your ear canal held in position with a piece of cotton wool. Any wounds will be closed using stitches.

Going home after ear drum repair

Please arrange for someone to drive you home on your day of discharge. You should plan on taking about 2 weeks off work or school.

Take over the counter pain relief such as paracetamol if needed. You may experience some dizziness for a week or two.

Your consultant may give you some restrictions for the first 2 weeks of your recovery including:

  • Avoid any activity that may result in getting water in your ear
  • No heavy lifting 
  • No strenuous sports or exercise 
  • Avoid people with a cough or cold 
  • Do not fly until released to do so by your surgeon 

Most people make a good recovery from ear drum repair. As with any surgical procedure there could be complications.

General complication of surgery may include:

  • Pain Bleeding
  • Infection 
  • Reaction to anaesthetic


Specific complications of ear drum repair may include:

  • Hearing loss 
  • Tinnitus (ringing in your ears)
  • Dizziness 
  • Facial paralysis (rare)
Wessex Hospital

Winchester Road, Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh, SO53 2DW

02380 266 377

By car: our hospital is conveniently located just off Junction 12 of the M3 between Southampton and Winchester, with free parking available. By public transport: the nearest train station is Chandlers Ford - a 20 minute train journey from Southampton Central station. The 1 Bluestar bus, which serves Southampton, Chandlers Ford and Winchester, is just 5 minutes’ walk from the hospital.

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