Ear wax removal
Micro-suction is a safe, painless way to get rid of ear wax. It uses a gentle suction pipe connected to a very thin steel suction tube, which is used in the ear canal to remove the wax.
The audiologist wears a powerful pair of binocular type ‘loupes’ with a light to be able to see the wax clearly for removal. A video otoscope will be used before and after proceedings to show you the difference the procedure has made.
Where appropriate and safe to do so, we may use gentle irrigation with water in conjunction with micro-suction.
ONLY USE SOFTENING DROPS (EAROL OLIVE OIL, PREFERABLY) FOR 1-2 DAYS IMMEDIATELY PRIOR TO THE APPOINTMENT. DO NOT USE OTEX (more specifically any hydrogen peroxide based drops - olive oil Otex IS ok).
However - don't panic if you've not had time. It can often be done without. If you've been using drops for longer than 3 days already then please stop between now and your appointment. Thanks.
FAQs and Prices
Micro-suction is generally considered to be safer than syringing for wax removal. This is because the syringing procedure can be quite aggressive and could potentially damage an ear drum. If there is damage to the drum already, then syringing will almost certainly make it worse.
With micro-suction there is no water flushed into the ear canal, significantly reducing the chance of damage or infection. It goes without saying that with all procedures of this nature there is always a slight risk injury.
To minimise any risk, the ear canal is visible to the audiologist at all times. You will be asked to complete a questionnaire prior to the procedure to highlight any risks, and these will be discussed with the professional.
It very much depends on how much wax there is, how deep it is, how hard it is (usually related to how long it’s been in the ear) and the size and shape of your canal. In most cases it takes a few minutes.
Sometimes if it especially stubborn we will use some Earol softening drops and other methods of removal, like an incredibly small ‘scoop’ provided it is safe to do so. This could mean it takes up to half an hour. The appointment length is well over an hour in case of stubborn wax and to allow sufficient time between appointments for thorough cleaning of the room and safely disposing of items.
If we cannot get it out on the first visit we’ll get you to use some drops over a couple of days and see you again free of charge until it’s done.
As already mentioned there is always a very small risk with micro-suction ear wax removal. Damage to the ear canal and tympanic membrane (ear drum) are possible should the patient move suddenly, but incidents are incredibly rare.
The suction pump machine makes a bit of noise but is not overly noisy. For someone with tinnitus there is the potential that the noise could exacerbate it – once again, very unusual, as the noise is not anything close to ‘damaging’ levels.
We all produce ear wax and for good reason. It is the ear's natural cleaner. Its proper name is 'cerumen' and it starts life as a clear, runny oil. It migrates up the ear canal and coats it in a protective solution that is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal!
It starts life around the base of every hair in the ear canal. The hairs are located in the outer third of the ear canal and are there to aid the flow of wax out of the ear as well, as stop things going in and to alert you to it if they are.
Wax (or cerumen) as we know it is made up of this oil, skin cells, dust, dirt and so on. It migrates up the ear canal picking up all the things the canal doesn't need and leaving behind an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal coating. It keeps the canal well lubricated and stops it becoming dry and itchy.
The colour and composition of wax will vary from one person to the next dependent on their age, diet and their environment.
Most of the time, wax takes care of itself and should be left alone. Cotton buds, hair grips, pens, paper clips, hearing aids and hearables can all push the wax further down. When this happens, the wax becomes impacted and may block the canal completely or push against the ear drum.
Hearing loss is the most obvious. The patient will often feel blocked up, giving a feeling of being underwater on that side. This might make their own voice sound louder to them. Sometimes it can be physically uncomfortable and may exacerbate tinnitus. This is because with the drop in ambient, sound the brain becomes more aware of other internal sounds like tinnitus.
If you wear a hearing aid, a wax blockage will often cause the hearing aid to whistle in the ear. This is because sound coming from the instrument bounces off the wax, back out of the canal and back into the hearing aid, thus creating feedback.
A wax blockage is often unavoidable. Ear canals that are especially hairy, narrow or bendy are prone to more issues with wax than others. One of the biggest reasons for wax blockages are things continually pushed into the canal space.
If you use a hearing aid this is unavoidable – you have to wear the aid! But if it's cotton buds then this should be stopped immediately. Not only can cotton buds push the wax further down the canal and closer to the sensitive ear drum, but bits can also break off causing more blockages and stripping the canal of its natural oil, making it dry and itchy. So, next time you see someone armed with a cotton bud near the ear – stop them!
Wax removal one or both ears
Our charge is per appointment rather than per ear as we use the same length of appointment; equipment and PPE whether the procedure is carried out in one or both ears.
10 minute wax check
If you're not sure if you have a wax issue you could just book in for our 10 minute check. We'll have a look with our video otoscope which you will see as well, and decide if the procedure is necessary.
Follow up procedures
If we need you to return for further treatment.
Hearing screening test
*If wax removal appointment is booked but not needed
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
Here we have a small selection of before and after pictures from previous micro suction procedures. In each case, we like to be able to see the ear drum at the end of it.