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.
Your doctor will make a cut (incision) behind your ear. He or she 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 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 the remaining auditory nerves work. You may need to work with a speech therapist after surgery to learn how to make the most of your implant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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: July 29, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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