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A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that can help you hear. You may get one if you have severe or total hearing loss. The implant does the job of the damaged or absent nerve cells that in a normal ear make it possible to hear. A small device worn outside the ear turns on the implant.
Get all of the required vaccines at least 2 weeks before cochlear implant surgery.
Your doctor will make a cut (incision) behind your ear. Then the doctor will place the implant in the inner ear. The incision will leave a scar that will fade with time. The implant may make a small bump under the skin behind your ear. Your hair may cover the scar, the bump, and the device worn outside your ear.
You will probably go home the same day as the surgery or the next day. Most people are able to go back to work and their normal routine in 1 or 2 weeks.
Your hearing will not change right after surgery. This does not happen until the implant is turned on (activated) 3 to 6 weeks later. This gives the ear time to heal.
A cochlear implant can help you understand speech and speak more clearly. But it will not give you normal hearing. How well your implant works depends on many things. These include how long you have had hearing problems and how well sound signals travel to the brain through the auditory nerve. You may need to work with a speech therapist after surgery to learn how to make the most of your implant.
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Donald R. Mintz MD - Otolaryngology
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