Do you need to soften ear wax before microsuction?

If you have made the decision to have microsuction undertaken on your ears, you may be wondering whether you need to soften your ear wax before the procedure.

Softening ear wax is a preparation that is required of the majority of ear cleaning procedures, but is it necessary before undergoing microsuction? Let’s take a look.

Do you need to soften ear wax beforehand? Short answer – it depends!

The procedure called microsuction uses a small vacuum to suck out any blockages of ear wax from the ear canal. A microsuction ear wax treatment on the outskirts of London here at Welling Ear Wax Clinic should only take a few minutes – the doctor will identify the blockage via camera, before using a long, thin vacuum to dislodge and remove the wax from your ear.

There is a lot of research out there both for and against softening your ear wax before microsuction. This means that it ultimately depends on the clinic that you visit, and their opinions on the effectiveness of softening your ear wax beforehand.

Indeed, one of the many benefits of choosing microsuction over other ear cleaning solutions such as syringing is that you don’t need to do anything to prepare your ear. This means that softening your earwax is not something you must do before microsuction, but it might be something recommended to you by the clinician carrying out the procedure.

To get the full picture, let us take a look at the benefits of softening ear wax before microsuction, and instances in which you should avoid it. Always check with a medical professional before using ear wax softening agents.

Benefits of softening ear wax before microsuction

  1. It could reduce side effects

One study found that 55% of people who undergo microsuction develop side effects such as dizziness, discomfort, and reduced hearing temporarily after the procedure. More rare and serious side effects include infection, hearing loss, tinnitus, and damage to the eardrum.

However, the same study also found that those who softened their earwax before the procedure were less likely to have pain, dizziness, and discomfort. These findings were backed up by a later, unrelated study.

  1. It could aid the extraction of hard or compacted wax

If you suffer from very hard or compacted earwax, softening the ear wax before the procedure can make it easier for the medical professional to extract the wax.

However, it is important to note that you should never assume this applies to you – even if you have had to do it before. If your clinician thinks that wax softening is necessary, they will let you know in advance of your microsuction.

  1. It might clear the blockage without the need for microsuction

Over-the-counter ear wax softeners are an alternative removal treatment to microsuction in their own right. If the blockage in your ear is minor, the ear wax softener may loosen it enough for it to fall out naturally, without you needing to undergo microsuction.

When to steer clear of softening ear wax before microsuction

  1. If you have soft wax already

In the same way that compacted, hard wax can be difficult to extract, the same can be said for wax that has become too soft and runny. As microsuction is undertaken using a small vacuum, wax that is too soft can be harder to extract. Just imagine trying to hoover up melted, liquid candle wax from your carpet – it’s less likely to work than when it is solid!

If wax becomes too runny, it will naturally migrate further towards the eardrum. When you have a small ear canal, this can then make microsuction harder for the clinician, and more uncomfortable for the patient.

  1. If you have a perforated eardrum

A perforated eardrum is one which has burst, ruptured, or in other words, has a small hole in it. Symptoms of a perforated eardrum include ear infections, sudden hearing loss, earache, ear pain, itching inside the ear, leaking fluids, high temperature, and tinnitus. Symptoms will typically pass when the eardrum has healed, which takes around a few weeks.

If you are confirmed to have, or suspect you might have, a perforated eardrum, you must never put any liquids in your ear unless told to by a doctor. Thus, you should not use any ear wax softening products.

However, one of the benefits of microsuction is that you can still undergo the treatment even with a perforated eardrum – as long as this has been approved by your medical professional, of course. In fact, microsuction can usually be carried out on people with burst eardrums, foreign matter in the ear, mild outer ear infections, and a history of ear surgery.

  1. If your medical professional has told you not to

Always follow the advice of the person who will be carrying out the microsuction – and if you are unsure, just ask! Some practitioners may prefer to undertake microsuction without any softening treatments, while others might prefer the results with softened ear wax.

If you soften it without this being approved by a medical professional, this could damage your eardrum. In terms of the procedure, it might also mean that the microsuction cannot be performed, or you need multiple appointments in order to get all the wax out.

  1. If the product is made from sodium bicarbonate or hydrogen peroxide

Many ear wax softening agents are made using sodium bicarbonate (bicarbonate of soda) or hydrogen peroxide (bleach). Although these drops might be prescribed for certain ear conditions, such products can be quite harsh on the ear.

Aggressive ear wax softening products such as sodium bicarbonate and hydrogen peroxide can irritate the skin, increase the risk of ear infection, and heighten discomfort during microsuction. These agents make ear wax thinner and liquified, which can make the procedure a lot louder for the patient.

Instead, opt for a gentle ear wax softener such as natural almond or olive oil. Use a simple pipette to put a couple of drops into your ear – never insert anything into your ear. Make sure that the oil you use is at room temperature, the pipette is clean, and that you are very gentle with the application.

Overall, whether you need to soften ear wax before microsuction depends on a variety of factors, including your ear health, the products you use, the density of your wax, and the opinion of your doctor. If in doubt, always follow the advice of the professional that will be overseeing your procedure.