Is A Tympanoplasty Painful?

Tympanoplasty is a surgery involving the repair (reconstruction) of the eardrum (tympanic membrane).
Tympanoplasty is a surgery involving the repair (reconstruction) of the eardrum (tympanic membrane).

Tympanoplasty is a surgery involving the repair (reconstruction) of the eardrum (tympanic membrane). This is usually performed for a hole (perforation) in the eardrum.

Tympanoplasty can be performed either under local or general anesthesia. Local anesthesia will numb the surgical area (ear), whereas general anesthesia will make you sleep throughout the procedure. This usually makes tympanoplasty a painless procedure. In small perforations, the operation can be easily performed under local anesthesia with a medicine that makes you drowsy (sedative).

You may get mild, intermittent ear pain during the first 2 weeks after surgery and that is OK. The pain that can be fleeting or stabbing in nature is felt above or in front of the ear and increases while chewing. Your doctor will prescribe you a pain medication, which you may take for several days after surgery. Rectal acetaminophen suppositories and orally disintegrating tablets can be given to children who dislike oral medications.

If the ear pain does not subside even after taking the prescribed painkillers, call your doctor. 

What can you expect after tympanoplasty?

Before panicking about any new sign and symptom that arises after tympanoplasty, it is better to know what to expect after the procedure. Here are some of the signs and symptoms you may experience:


Swelling is a normal observation after every surgical procedure. Swelling around the ear after a tympanoplasty is normal too. It usually subsides over several weeks. 

Try sleeping with your head elevated for the first week after surgery. Make use of two to three pillows under your head or your mattress. This helps to minimize swelling.


You may feel dizzy due to the swelling in your inner ear. Treating the swelling may resolve the dizziness

If you do not suffer from gastritis, try over the counter pain medications such as ibuprofen to alleviate the swelling and prevent dizziness. Do not get up suddenly from the bed after lying down; get up slowly.

Ear discharge

You may experience bloody or watery discharge during the healing process. You can place a small cotton ball at the opening of the ear as needed for drainage. If the discharge is greenish-yellow or foul-smelling, it may be a sign of infection. Contact your doctor.


It is normal to get a low-grade fever after tympanoplasty. Taking acetaminophen pills will usually resolve it. If the fever goes up to 101°F, contact your doctor or visit the nearest emergency center.

Taste disturbance and dry mouth

You may have taste disturbance and dry mouth for a few weeks after the surgery. 

Improvement in hearing

Usually, normal hearing is restored within 4-6 months after tympanoplasty.


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How long does it take to recover from tympanoplasty?

Full recovery from tympanoplasty can take 2-3 months. If other surgeries such as mastoidectomy is also performed along with tympanoplasty, it will take significantly more time. Here is what you should do to speed up the recovery process:

  • Do not strain, blow your nose, or cough excessively. Remember to keep your mouth open while sneezing for at least 2 weeks after the surgery.
  • Avoid heavy workouts, sports, or playing musical instruments that require blowing (such as trumpet, clarinet, and saxophone) for at least 1 month after surgery. Increase the activities gradually after a month.
  • Swimming, diving, and water skiing should not be done for 2 months after surgery.
  • Do not bend over and lift heavy objects for at least 2 weeks after surgery.
  • You may shower and wash your hair 3 days after the surgery. Please use earplugs or a cotton ball dipped in petroleum jelly while doing so.
  • Avoid going to crowded places or meeting people who are sick for at least a month after the surgery. If you catch a cold, it may spread to your ear and complicate the healing process.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions after the surgery. If you have any additional concerns, do not hesitate to ask them.

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