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You may be given an appointment for microsuction alone, or it may be part of the care given on the day, when attending a hospital appointment.

What Is Microsuction?

It is a procedure to remove wax, debris,and foreign objects from your external auditory (ear) canal – see diagram.

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The wax and debris are removed by suction through a small suction probe (tube) which is carefully placed into your ear canal.

Why Do You Need Microsuction?

The ear produces wax which is the natural method to care, clean and lubricate the delicate skin inside your ear, it also plays a role in preventing infections by trapping dirt, bacteria and other particles.

Wax and debris may need to be removed because a build-up is affecting your hearing, is causing you discomfort or a clinician needs a clear view of your ear drum. Some people need regular microsuction to maintain the health of their ears, others will never need 

Is It Safe? 

Yes, when performed by a trained clinician using the appropriate equipment. It is a quick, effective way to remove earwax, and for most people is pain-free. There are some known side-effects and risks, listed below.

Known Side-Effects or Risks

  • Pain / discomfort: The procedure can cause discomfort for some, particularly if the wax is pushing on your eardrum or is hard and compacted.
  • Coughing / throat irritation: Some people find that microsuction triggers the need to cough. If possible, try not to cough during the procedure – this moves your head and might result in damage to your ear canal from the probe. If you need to cough, tell the clinician and they will stop.
  • Trauma: Sometimes the delicate skin of the ear canal can be grazed or irritated, causing discomfort and occasionally bleeding. Keeping still when the probe is in your ear is important, but sometimes skin or hair can be pulled away from the canal wall by the suction probe, causing damage.
  • Noise: The suction motor produces sound when in use, therefore during suctioning the noise can be heard within the ear canal. It can feel loud, and some people find this intrusive.
  • Ear infection: Rarely the procedure can lead to ear infections.
  • Tinnitus / alteration in hearing: Rarely, the noise can impact on a person’s hearing, with occasional reports of reduced hearing, increased sensitivity to noise or tinnitus after microsuction. For the vast majority, this will last for a short period only, after which the hearing returns to normal. If this happens or has happened to you, please tell us.

How Is It Done?

The clinician will ask you to sit in a chair (or wheelchair) or lie on the couch. They will look in your ear using an otoscope (a light and magnifying lens combined, please see picture) to examine the present of wax.They will then use a microscope to perform the procedure.A small suction probe will be carefully placed into your ear canal and angled to remove wax and debris. Wax is removed under direct vision to avoid trauma. If the wax is difficult to remove or there is a larger foreign body (eg a bead), the clinician may use small instruments to remove the object. If you have a hairy ear canal obstructing the view this can be removed.Examples of instruments that may be used are pictured:

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The expected procedure (suction) time can vary, usually between 15 to 20 minutes for both ears. 

The procedure can be stopped at any time.

If you feel dizzy, tell us; this will usually pass within a few minutes.


  • Do not put / push anything into your ear canal.
  • You can your resume normal activities after the procedure.
  • A follow–up appointment may be required depending on the circumstances.
  • If you have any problems after microsuction, please contact us on:


Clinicians can remove wax manually with the use of instruments such as ear speculum, crocodile forceps, Jobson Horn Probe, blunt hook. The method will take longer and is considered safe.

The risk factors are as above, but as there is no motor noise there should be no impact on hearing.