Wax Removal – Why people are converting to the latest method of microsuction

Ear irrigation (previously known as ear syringing) has been the most popular method used both privately and on the Nation Health Service (NHS) for many years, but people are now converting to the latest technique known as Microsuction and we will discuss that here today.

What is Ear Irrigation?

Ear Irrigation is still most commonly known as syringing; however irrigation is actually a more recent procedure that has replaced the old-fashioned technique of ear syringing. It is a low-pressure flow of water, using a specialised irrigator, to gently remove the wax blockage. The water is carefully directed towards the upper ear canal to flow out bringing the wax with it.

This is also a completely pain free procedure and can lasts anything between 15 to 30 minutes.

It is effective if performed correctly and can be done by your Audiologist, GP or Practice Nurse.

When compared to the Microscution procedure there are a few more reasons why this procedure may not be deemed safe to be performed for example, it cannot be carried out if you have had previous ear surgery, are suffering from catarrh, a perforated ear drum or ear infection. Although the procedure should not be painful, there is a mild pressure sensation involved from the water touching the eardrum, which some patients report to be more uncomfortable than with microsuction which does not have this.

What are the benefits of Microsuction, and why is it the safest method of wax removal?

This method of wax removal uses gentle suction to clear the wax from the ear. The hearing specialist uses a microscope to view the ear wax, ear canal and eardrum, which means they can always see what they are doing, thus making it much safer for them and you.

The procedure is usually carried out by an ENT Surgeon, Specialist Nurse or Audiologist. Historically, this procedure was only available privately or on the NHS in specialist ear clinics and is still rarely used in local GP practices or NHS treatment rooms. It is however, the most common method used in many private ear wax removal clinics by an audiologist who has undergone specialist training. The procedure is quick, safe, painless and in most cases does not involve having to put any liquid ear drops into your ear, which can often cause further loss of hearing or discomfort for the short period they are being administered.

In addition to this it is safe to have Microsuction if you have an ear infection or a perforated ear drum because the procedure is done dry, without water. Other than with a sterilised specula at the ear canal opening there is no contact with the skin of the ear canal or tympanic membrane (eardrum) and which significantly reduces the risk of infection. The tube through which the wax is removed comes in a variation of sizes and therefore it is also the preferred method for clearing blockages from narrow ear canals.

The process takes between 10-20 minutes perform.

What are the risks involved with clearing my ears?

Even though both microsuction and irrigation are effective it does have some possible side effects and risks. In most cases your audiologist will require you to sign a consent form prior to having the procedure. It is worth noting that these risks are minimal and unlikely.

  • Ear wax being further impacted into the ear canal by the water being pumped into the ear (irrigation/syringing only.)
  • Damage and trauma to the ear canal and ear drum (including perforation.)
  • Risk of infection to the skin of the ear canal and/or eardrum.
  • Hearing loss (temporary or permanent) and tinnitus (ringing type noise inside the ear) or worsening of these symptoms if already experienced.
  • Although this is very rare.

As microsuction carries a lower risk for all of the above, there is good reason why people may wish to convert to choosing the microsuction procedure. We NEVER recommend using anything other than ear drops at home for treatment of blockages such as cotton buds, tissues, hair pins or needles. These carry significant risk of damage.

Symptoms of a blockage/ build-up include:

  • Impaired hearing, ear pain or dizziness
  • Itchiness and irritation in the ears or ear canal
  • A full sensation, or pressure in the ear
  • Sudden hearing loss after swimming or showering.
  • Mild tinnitus

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, this could be due to a build-up of ear wax, which will need to be removed. Here at Integrate Hearing our Clinical Audiologist can perform both Microscution and Irrigation and we will be able to advise you on which method will be most suitable for you, fully explaining the pros/cons of both methods where needed.

Integrate Hearing offer a range of hearing services at our clinics in Stockport, Runcorn and Wrexham and also for domiciliary at-home visits in the surrounding areas. Our services and products include hearing tests, hearing aids, ear wax removal, custom hearing protection and tinnitus management.


“Visited Olivia today at Cheadle for ear wax removal. I was very impressed with her professionalism and friendliness which I feel would put even a nervous patient quickly at ease. The treatment was trouble free and pain free and reached a successful outcome with complete removal of the wax. I would not hesitate to recommend Olivia to any potential patients”.

Norman Wall.