Which Procedure is Best?

At our audiology clinic in Silsden, West Yorkshire (mid way between Keighley, Skipton and Ilkley) our ear wax removal service uses three methods of ear wax removal – Microsuction, Ear Irrigation and Dry Removal.

If you want to understand the difference between microsuction vs irrigation vs dry removal, then read on!


Microsuction is an ear wax removal technique which is safe, comfortable and pain-free. We use magnifying illuminated loupes to provide a clear view of the ear canal. We then insert a fine low-pressure suction probe into the ear canal to ‘hoover’ out the problematic build up of ear wax.

Microsuction is considered the safest method of wax removal when used by a trained professional. You find microsuction sometimes used in ENT departments and in some private clinics.

Ear Irrigation

Irrigation is an ear wax removal technique that involves a low pressure and controlled steady stream of warm water into the ear canal.

This flushes out the build up of wax in the ear canal. People often refer to irrigation as syringing, which is not quite correct.

Ear wax removal by irrigation is via an electronic irrigator which regulates the pressure of water used.

It is much safer than the old syringes where it was difficult to regualte the pressure manually.

Irrigation is mainly used in GP surgeries and some private clinics.

Dry Removal

Dry removal is an ear wax removal technique to manually remove wax and debris from the ear canal. Usually at the entrance of the ear canal and with an instrument like a curette or forceps.

We use all three methods of ear wax removal!

At HAB Hearing we employ all three methods of ear wax removal and take a view on a case by case basis, per patient, as to which method of the three (or actually sometimes a combination of methods) that we use.

Our aim is to send you on your way from our clinic visit with clear ears and a spring in your step. We use whichever method makes most sense on the day, not simply for it to be a straight choice between microsuction vs irrigation for instance.

Our opinion is that it is short sighted to offer only one method of ear wax removal. We see on the high street national chains in particular only offering microsuction.

We think that is rather silly and not serving the customer best.

Which is best? Microsuction vs Irrigation vs Dry Removal

There is no hard and fast rule as to which of the three methods of ear wax removal work best. At HAB Hearing we work on this basic idea;

  • Anything less than a week of oil applied before your appointment microsuction is likely to be the favoured method of ear wax removal.
  • A week or more of oil applied it is more likely that irrigation is the favoured method of ear wax removal.

The balance of using microsuction vs irrigation is down to how soft the wax is in your ear. If you apply more oil the wax in your ear is likely to be more liquified. Then we are more likely to use irrigation.

If you have applied less oil the wax will tend to be more solid in nature. Then we are more inclined to use microsuction as the best option.

We use dry removal mainly when a large lump of wax is not easily exiting the ear canal because its size is a little larger than the entrance of the ear canal.

Sometimes it is just easier to grab the wax with an instrument and pull it out!

So how much oil do I need to apply before my appointment?

Our advice is that you should apply 2-3 days of olive oil into your ears morning and evening. Any more than that is a bonus. Any less and the chance of it being uncomfortable or even leading to a return visit at a later date increases.

As long as you have 2-3 days of oil in your ears we can completely clear your ears ‘nearly always’.

Which treatment do we undertake mostly? Microsuction vs Irrigation?

Depending on the condition within the ear canal we tend to use microsuction alone around 50% of the time, irrigation alone perhaps 30%, and a combination of microsuction, irrigation and / or dry removal the remainder. We take a view each time based on what we can see in the ear canal.

What solution is recommended to soften the wax in preparation for ear wax removal?

We always recommend Earol (or any olive oil solution really). Earol is distilled olive oil, it is visually a clear liquid, has an applicator nozzle to direct a fine mist of oil into the ear canal and doesn’t cause any mess. It is also very gentle to the delicate ear canal. Hence the reason we recommend!

If at your appointment we find the wax is very hard or clay like and we are struggling to remove it (does not happen that often), we may suggest applying Sodium Bicarbonate drops before your follow up appointment.

Sodium Bicarbonate drops can be a little aggressive and occasionally make the ear a little sore for some. We suggest olive oil in the first instance and sodium bicarbonate as an alternative if deemed necessary.

For more information including how to book an appointment click this link.

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