A cochlear implant (CI) is an electronic device that is placed in surgery. This device allows a person with severe to profound deafness to hear when the hearing (auditory) nerves are electrically stimulated. You will be working closely with an audiologist (hearing specialist).

Incision Care

You will have an incision behind the ear. You may have a large dressing around your head that will be removed the next day.

You may shower 3 days after surgery. Avoid direct spray of water on the incision for 1 week.

Do not put your head under water for 2 weeks.

Your ear will feel numb for a few weeks after surgery. It is normal that you can feel the implant behind the incision.


You may have pain at the surgery site. Your surgeon will talk with you about the best way to manage your pain.

You will be given a prescription for opioid pain medicine to use as needed. Do not drive or drink alcohol while taking opioids.


Keep your head raised on 2-3 pillows for the first week after surgery. Do not lie on the incision side for a few weeks.

Avoid strenuous activity for 2 weeks. No jogging, sports, or lifting greater than 10 pounds. You may take light walks with someone starting 2 days after surgery.

It is normal to feel dizzy or unsteady the first week after surgery.


Avoiding Pressure

  • CPAP: If you use CPAP for sleep apnea, do not use your CPAP for 2 weeks after surgery.

  • Do not blow your nose for 2 weeks after surgery.

  • Avoid heavy lifting or straining where you would hold your breath for 2 weeks.

  • Check with your surgeon about when it is okay to fly.

Starting Your Processor

After 4-6 weeks the device is turned on. Then, the external processor is placed and programmed by the audiologist to make the internal device work.

You will work closely with your audiologist to set the device for the best results.

When to Call

If you have any of these symptoms, please call your doctor or clinic nurse.

  • Any sign of infection:

    • Spreading redness

    • Increased swelling

    • Cloudy puss-like drainage

    • Fever over 100.4, for 2 readings, 4 hours apart

  • Pain is not controlled with pain medicine

Who to Call

ENT Clinic

Monday – Friday, 8 am to 5 pm

(608) 263-6190 or (800) 323-8942

After hours and weekends, this number is answered by the paging operator. Ask for the ENT doctor on call. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.