Discharge Instructions for Mastoidectomy

You had a procedure called mastoidectomy, the surgical removal of the mastoid bone, a bone you can feel behind the ear. Your doctor may do this procedure if your mastoid bone is infected or to remove growths from the middle ear. Here’s what you need to know about home care following surgery.

What to expect

  • Expect a small amount of drainage from the ear.

  • Don’t be alarmed if the skin of your outer ear is numb. This is a result of the surgery. The feeling should return within a few months.

Ear and incision care

  • Keep your head slightly elevated for the first 24 hours after you go home.

  • Avoid doing anything that makes your ears pop. Don’t blow your nose or exhale with your nose held closed.

  • Sneeze with your mouth open.

  • Shower as necessary, starting 3 days after your surgery. You may allow water to run across any external wounds, but don’t scrub them.

  • Keep the ear dry. You can place a cotton ball dabbed with a small amount of petroleum jelly in the outer ear to keep water out during a bath or shower.

  • Take your medication exactly as directed.


  • Avoid activities that involve heavy lifting and straining.

  • Get your doctor’s permission before flying in a plane or swimming.

  • Ask your doctor when you may return to work. There may be special considerations depending on the type of work you do.

Follow-up care

Make follow-up appointments as directed by our staff. Your ear has special packing material in it. Parts of this material may need to be removed at specific times.

When to seek medical care

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Increased redness or swelling around the ear

  • Dizziness or disorientation

  • Foul-smelling drainage from the ear or the incision

  • Persistent headache

  • Double vision or blurred vision

  • Fever above 101.0°F (38.3°C)

  • Bleeding bright red blood

  • Trouble swallowing

  • Facial droop