Swimming After Eardrum Repair Surgery

How Soon Can You Swim After A Tympanoplasty / Myringoplasty?

Swiiming After tympanoplasty Myringoplasty
The beautiful photo above was taken by me at sunset in Küçükçekmece Lake

After eardrum closure operations, if water is leaked into the ear, risks such as infection in the surgical area, failure of the operation and re-emergence of the hole in the eardrum may occur.  For this reason, we usually advise our patients to protect the ear from water contact after eardrum operations and motivate our patients to take the necessary care. After the operation, it is recommended that the patients use various earplugs produced in accordance with the external ear canal, and various protective barriers with elastic bands that can be placed outside the head.  It is also recommended that our patients stay away from sports activities that may cause pressure increase.  It is the most accurate information that our surgeon who performed your surgery recommends to you.  Please do not participate in activities that may cause water contact to the ear, such as swimming in the pool, swimming in the sea or diving after eardrum surgery, without consulting your ent doctor.

Complete Healing Times After Eardrum Hole Repairing Surgeries 

Full recovery after eardrum surgery can sometimes take 2-6 months or longer, depending on the size of the hole and the type of surgery performed.  If the hole in the eardrum is a few millimeters and only a simple eardrum repair was performed, for example, after endoscopic myringoplasty or after a perforated eardrum repair with a small amount of fat tissue, the recovery period may be as short as 2 months.  In addition, in patients with near-total perforation of the eardrum and destruction of the ossicles in the middle ear, the recovery period may be longer than 6 months after tympanoplasty operations and ossicular chain operations (ossiculoplasty).

How long does it take to recover from eardrum surgery?

The recovery period after eardrum surgery takes a few months as I wrote above.  While the recovery time is much shorter after small eardrum closure procedures, recovery time can be 6 months or even 1 year in large eardrum surgery and in patients who have complicated middle ear surgery.  You can talk to your doctor about swimming in the pool or the sea, after you are informed that the eardrum is epithelialized and the pre-existing perforation area in the eardrum is completely closed during the examinations you go to your otolaryngologist who performed your surgery.  I usually advise my patients who have had eardrum surgery on ear infiltration products for at least 4 months.  I tell some of my patients that water contact with the ear should be avoided for a much longer period of time.  While performing the surgery, the dead epithelial tissue on the edges of the hole in the eardrum is cut and removed, so that it is observed that there is live and bleeding tissue on the edge of the entire hole.  Grafts such as cartilage membrane, cartilage fat are placed on this bleeding and living edge tissue and the hole in the eardrum is closed.  that is, in eardrum surgeries, it is not possible to fix the graft by stitching the eardrum.  For this reason, the hole in the eardrum may reappear as a result of a simple leakage of water or the separation of the graft in the membrane with air pressure.  Grafts placed in order to close the hole in the membrane during eardrum surgeries can be placed on the membrane (overlay) and under the membrane (underlay).  In the first weeks after the surgery, the risk of this graft slipping out of place or the separation of the contact area with the infection is higher.  In the first weeks after eardrum surgery, an ear pad is placed in the external ear canal and is removed by the doctor during the doctor's examination.  I usually advise my patients after this stage to prepare a cotton ball mixed with an antibiotic ointment and place it outside the external ear canal during the bath.  Afterwards, I can recommend my patients to take a bath freely after they see that the hole in the eardrum is closed and epithelialization is completed in the control examinations.  In the same way, I inform our patients who plan to swim in the pool or the sea for holiday purposes, that they should be protected from water contact for at least 6 months.  I give you the information that the ear pads used by swimmers cannot completely stop the water contact 100%.  For this reason, I recommend that they do not enter the pool or the sea for the first 6 months as much as possible.

How soon can I swim after a tympanoplasty?

Perforated tympanic membrane,Tympanoplasty,Myringoplasty,eardrum, swimming after tympanoplasty
The beautiful photo above was taken by me at sunset in Küçükçekmece Lake

It is not easy to answer this question simply.  First of all, if we mean swimming only superficially on the pool or the sea without putting the head under water;  After simple eardrum surgeries, it is possible to swim from 2-4 months by using sufficient amount of ear protectors.  If patients mean swimming by wanting to dive under the water;  they have to wait much longer for this.  Because tons of pressure can occur under water, and simple earplugs cannot prevent water from entering the external ear canal;  they also cannot prevent pressure trauma.  If complicated ear surgeries were performed, for example, if osseous chain operations were performed in the middle ear together with tympanic membrane surgery, if mastoidectomy operations were performed, it is appropriate to see that the epithelialization of the middle ear is completed and the ossicular chain is completely healed, and then to inform the patients about swimming.  Please do not act other than your doctor's advice about swimming and take into account your doctor's guidance during control examinations.  If water is leaked into the ear before the surgical area on the eardrum heals, it may cause your surgery to be done in vain and cause unnecessary infections.

How long should you avoid swimming after a perforated eardrum?

In patients with tympanic membrane perforation after traumatic ruptured eardrum or after infection, serious protection of the ear from water contact and waiting for a few weeks is usually sufficient for recovery.  In traumatic eardrum perforations, if there is little leakage of water in the ear, almost complete healing occurs within a maximum of 2 months.  While traumatic small eardrum perforations usually close spontaneously within weeks;  Several months may be required for large traumatic perforations.  We recommend our patients to use both a cotton ball impregnated with Vaseline or antibiotic ointment, and ear pads that can be placed firmly in the external ear canal while taking a bath so that no water enters the ear.  During this period, we strongly recommend that they do not enter the pool or sea, and do not swim in the water.

You can't swim or dive with a perforated ear drum!

Some patients may think that they can swim comfortably even if there is a hole in the eardrum, and even a discharge from their ears may be normal.  Unfortunately, on the Internet, you can come across statements saying that if you have a hole in your eardrum, you can just cover your ear with cotton or a simple plug, then throw it into the sea, or swim in the pool.  If there is a hole in the eardrum, please do not swim, do not enter the pool or the sea.  Because normally, the eardrum has both a barrier and hearing-related duties.  When the eardrum is perforated, since the barrier function is removed, in case of water entering the middle ear from the external ear canal, serious middle ear infections, recurrent water intrusion and structural changes due to recurrent discharges over time, permanent hearing loss, emergence of chronic otitis media and, accordingly, there may be a risk of spread of inflammation to surrounding tissues.  Note that there is the cerebral cortex at the top of the middle ear and the facial nerve at the back of the middle ear. At the same time, the main vascular structures are very close to the middle ear.  It is not normal for a fluid containing trillions of bacteria to enter this area and to have recurrent infections in that area.  If there is a hole in your eardrum or if you constantly have an inflammatory discharge in your ear after swimming;  please be examined by an otolaryngologist and expect him to give you advice on this matter.  Placing only cotton in the ear and using only the swim plug cannot prevent 100% of water escaping.  If a patient with a perforated eardrum tries to dive;  If cold water under pressure enters the middle ear, serious dizziness, ear pain and then serious middle ear infections may occur under the sea or pool.  In this way, in patients with uncontrolled water contact, the enlargement of the hole in the eardrum, the destruction of the bones in the middle ear, the effect of inflammation in the inner ear, and neural type damage may occur in time, and this may cause both the exacerbation of hearing loss and the gradual increase of the problem in the eardrum in patients.

The link group you can click to reach the articles published on this website about the eardrum >> https://www.ent-istanbul.com/search?q=eardrum 

Murat Enoz, MD, Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgeon

Private Office:
Address: İncirli Cad. No:41, Kat:4 (Dilek Patisserie Building), Postal code: 34147, Bakırköy - İstanbul
Appointment Phone: +90 212 561 00 52
E-Mail: muratenoz@gmail.com 
Mobile phone: +90 533 6550199
Fax: +90 212 542 74 47