Ear/Mastoid Surgery

Ear and Mastoid Surgery Post-Op Instructions

Immediately Following Surgery:

NO NOSE BLOWING until the doctor says the ear has healed. Accumulated secretions (post-nasal drainage) should be drawn back into the throat and expectorated – expelled through the mouth. This is especially important if the patient has a cold.

EARS SHOULD NOT BE POPPED by holding the nose closed and blowing air through the Eustachian tube into the ear.

If a sneeze is necessary, it should be done with the mouth open.

Water should not be allowed to enter the ear until the doctor says the ears have healed. Until that time, the ear should be protected, when bathing or washing hair, by placing cotton in the outer ear opening and covering it with Vaseline. Incisions behind the ears should be kept dry for two weeks. Swimming should not be done until the ears have healed.

The patient should not chance catching a cold. Foul weather exposure and fatigue are to be avoided. Should the patient catch a cold, it should be immediately reported to the doctor, so that all possible care can be taken to save the patient’s hearing.


The patient can expect a certain amount of pulsation - popping, clicking and other sounds - in the ear as well as the feeling of fullness in the ear. Occasional sharp shooting pains are not unusual. At times it may feel as if there is fluid in the ear.

Minor degrees of dizziness may occur with head movement. These are not of concern unless the feeling persists.

There is rarely a hearing improvement immediately after surgery. In fact, hearing may even temporarily worsen because of swelling of the ear tissues and packing in the ear canal. An improvement may be noted six to eight weeks after the operation, but maximum improvement may require four to six months.

A bloody, watery, yellow discharge may occur during the healing period. The outer ear cotton may be changed if necessary, but in general the less done to the ear the better.

After the packing is out, you may wish to place a small piece of cotton in the outer ear canal during the night to prevent drainage onto the pillow.


Mild intermittent ear pain is not unusual during the first two weeks following surgery. Pain may also occur above or in front of the ear when chewing. If the pain persists and is not relieved by prescribed pain medication, the Clinic should be contacted.

If an incision is made behind the ear, the upper outer ear may be numb. Protection from cold temperatures is necessary.


Full activity is usually possible, following a tympanoplasty, within two or three days, and within a week following a mastoidectomy.

There are no specific travel restrictions; although, chewing gum should be used to stimulate swallowing when experiencing altitude changes.


A Follow-Up clinic appointment should be scheduled for two weeks after surgery.

Contact Information
If at any time you have questions concerning your progress, call the ENT Clinic at 402-559-5208