Pros and Cons: Attract vs. Connect

There is a surprising lack of non-clinical information out there regarding the BAHA Attract (magnet). Maybe because it’s relatively new technology? Or maybe it’s because Attract people are just so excited to be living their life in stereo and maintenance-free that they forgot to report back.  Who knows. But for me, the pressure to make a decision is on! Only one week until surgery and I still can’t confidently choose one.  After hours of research and countless questions for my ENT, I have a list of pros and cons** I’d like to share.

Placement: Because the Attract (magnet) must be placed on the most flat area behind the ear (for the surface area of the magnet to connect), there is considerably less flexibility regarding where it’s placed. And placement is important! If you wear hats/baseball caps, sunglasses, bicycle helmets, cold-weather stuff, etc. then having control over where the processor connects to your head is important. 1 Point for Connect (abutment)

Maintenance: Obviously, the Connect (abutment) requires a significant amount of cleaning and maintenance relative to the Attract. It’s a post that sticks out of your head! Some people report recurring infection, skin irritation at the post site (off and on for years!) and discomfort or pain if the post is bumped (especially in the first 6 months to a year). Also, there’s a concern that the skin will grow over the abutment (in which case you would need to get a longer abutment — side note, a longer abutment means the whole thing sticks out from your head further/potentially more noticeable, if that matters to you). The attract (magnet) simply sits below the skin and – once it’s healed – doesn’t require upkeep or cleaning. 1 Point for Attract

Post surgery and recovery time: The time between surgery and activation for the Attract (magnet) is approximately 5-6 weeks whereas the Connect (abutment) could require 3 months, or more! And the healing process for the Attract is easier, since it’s just an incision. 1 Point for Attract

Interference: In the event that you ever need a MRI (hopefully you don’t!), the magnet aspect of the Attract will be a problem. In contrast, the Connect (just a titanium post) won’t be an issue. (To be fair, I have read that getting the magnet removed is a fairly easy procedure — local anesthesia, can be done in the doctor’s office — but it’s something important to note.) 1 Point for Connect

Size: Without the processor, the Attract (magnet) is incognito! The Connect (abutment) system requires a post that will always protrude from the skin. 1 Point for Attract

Visibility (the vanity part): If you’re like me, the ability to hide the fact that I’m wearing a hearing aid matters! When I meet someone for the first time, I want that person to see my smile first, not my hearing aid. However, designating a clear winner in this category is a little harder. On the one hand, I’ve been told that Attract (magnet) sticks out from the head further because there’s a processor + the size of the external magnet (about the size of a quarter in diameter and maybe a little less than twice the thickness, approx 4 mm-ish). For the connect (abutment), the size of the abutment isn’t necessarily the same for everyone. We can’t know if you or I will be one of the unlucky people who has to get a longer abutment due to skin growing over the post (or simply because you have thicker skin). And it also depends on hair style, which could change over time – obviously having short hair will make it harder to hide the processor. No points. (Also important to note, I was told the size of the magnet is only slightly bigger than the standard abutment – like a millimeter or two. So it’s arguably not even worth taking into consideration.)

Sound quality: Because the attract transmits sound through the external magnet, then skin and hair, then the internal magnet, there are more layers/potential barriers for sound to travel. The connect on the other hand “connects” directly to the bone. However, for me this doesn’t matter so much. I still have some hearing in both ears (I’m hearing impaired, not deaf), so the degree of hearing difference between the attract and the connect for me would be minimal enough that I probably wouldn’t notice. No points

Judging by this pro/con list, it looks like I’d be better off with the Attract. (Did I just make a decision?! Huzzah!) But this is a very personal journey! Your pro/con list could be completely different depending on your priorities, extracurricular activities, degree of hearing loss, etc. And it’s important to note the downsides of any hearing aid – constant battery replacement, the feedback (usually when it gets too close to something like a pillow when in bed), potentially losing it if it falls off (although there’s a safety line or more fashionable alternatives to this problem). There are a lot of things to consider when making this decision — I only hope that my list can help in some way.

What did I miss? Please leave a comment if there are additional factors that should be included in a pro/con list about the BAHA Attract vs. Connect.

** Disclaimer!! I’m just a girl with access to google – not a doctor or professional in the hearing-aid business. If you have questions about how the attract and the connect differ, ask your ENT or surf on over to the cochlear website to request more information.

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38 thoughts on “Pros and Cons: Attract vs. Connect

  1. Meri says:

    Your pros and cons look just like mine. I am in my 30’s (with single sided deafness). Had my surgery 8 weeks ago and chose the attract. My fitting is in two weeks and I can’t wait. So happy to be able to read about the BAHA on another forum in addition to Cochlear’s information. I have only even seen one other person with a BAHA on. Keep up the blogging! Best wishes- Meriboots.

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    • lindsayriedel says:

      Hi Meriboots! Sorry for the late reply. How are things going? And thank you! I debated with myself about the usefulness of this blog before I published, so it’s so great to hear that it’s helpful to you. 🙂

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  2. Kari says:

    Thank you both for the information. I have had SSD for 19 years and debated for years whether to proceed with the BAHA. I was a candidate for the Baha connect but backed out as I was nervous about having the abundment placed. I like the idea of the attract but would be interested to hear from you both how things are going. Do you still have the shadow effect? Can you hear things on the non hearing side ear? I have an appt 7/30/15 with a ENT surgeon and excited to see what he says.

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    • lindsayriedel says:

      Congrats on your upcoming appointment! So, my hearing is very unique because my condition is fixable for 1-2 year increments (meaning I need corrective surgery every 1-2 years in order to function without aids). Since my last surgery was in April, I can currently hear on both sides without the Attract; it’s my backup plan as my hearing begins to deteriorate or if I have a bad hearing day. What that means is that since I don’t wear the attract every day, my brain never has a chance to truly acclimate and I’ll most likely experience the shadow effect until I use the attract consistently enough for my brain to catch up (or at least that’s what I’m told!).

      In regards to how things are going – I’ve never used aids before so getting used to the feedback and the tin-like sounds was challenging at first. But it’s an amazing technology and I highly recommend it. Let me know how things go at your appointment! Good luck!

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  3. LindseyLewis says:

    Hello,
    I had my 6 month follow up with my ENT today and looks like everything we have tried has failed and I was given the option to have BAHA or try a regular hearing aid first. I am officially hearing impaired in my left ear now. My dr said I am the poster child on all the ear posters you see in the rooms. Anyways, long story short been fighting my ear battles since I was very young (2 maybe) and I am about to turn 30something. 🙂
    How do you like the attract? Sounds silly but does it fall off easy? I have long hair so I’m not worried about it showing but does that affect the sound quality? Would I need to wear my hair in a pony tail to get the best quality?
    What is your occupation? I think I may need to take my job into consideration, I am a chemist and work with instruments that may cause problems with the magnet. No clue where to find information on something like that other than calling the actual manufacturer.
    I’m very nervous but going deaf and would really like to hear normal again.
    One other note I have had a procedure to create a permanent hole in my eardrum so I’m thinking a normal hearing aid isn’t the best due to possible infection and daily use. Dr said a normal hearing aid wouldn’t be ideal but could help some.
    Any problems going through security or metal detectors?
    Thanks again, and sorry for all the questions. I’m nervous about choosing what is best.

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    • lindsayriedel says:

      Hi Lindsey! I can totally relate – your story sounds a lot like mine. Regarding your questions:

      1. How do you like the attract? Does it fall off easy? I like it a lot! I don’t wear it daily but I’m finding that it’s especially useful in important meetings and in small group settings.

      2. I have long hair so I’m not worried about it showing but does that affect the sound quality? Would I need to wear my hair in a pony tail to get the best quality? So, when I first got the attract there would be awful feedback whenever my hair touched it (which was always, since I didn’t feel comfortable wearing it with my hair up). But my audiologist made a few changes in the settings and it hasn’t been a problem since! Because I don’t wear it with my hair up at work/during the majority of my day, I can’t say definitively whether there’s a difference in sound quality or not; however, when I’ve worn it at home in the evenings, I haven’t noticed a huge difference.

      3. What is your occupation? I think I may need to take my job into consideration, I am a chemist and work with instruments that may cause problems with the magnet. No clue where to find information on something like that other than calling the actual manufacturer. I am a manager at a nonprofit org (mostly admin, computers, client services/customer service, etc). In some areas, BAHA representatives organize monthly informational meetings – I wonder if you could get some answers there? If not, the BAHA website has customer service contact info.

      4. One other note I have had a procedure to create a permanent hole in my eardrum so I’m thinking a normal hearing aid isn’t the best due to possible infection and daily use. Because both my ear canal and eardrum are problematic, I really liked that the BAHA bypasses the area entirely. Regardless of ear infections or other issues, I know that when I attach the BAHA I’ll hear well. Definitely recommend it! Of note though – I’ve noticed that the magnet area gets sore when I wear the attract for more than a couple hours at a time. I’ve been told that it’ll be less of an issue the more I wear it though.

      5. Any problems going through security or metal detectors? Not yet! I’ve been through the airport a few times and the magnet hasn’t given me any issues.

      Thanks again, and sorry for all the questions. I’m nervous about choosing what is best. No problem at all! If sharing my experiences helps ease some of the inevitable anxiety that goes with making this decision, I’m glad to!

      Good luck!

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  4. Hi. My surgery is scheduled for April 18 and I’ll choose attract system also. I was wondering if the magnet can cause some kind of headache. I don’t know if cold weather has some influence on the magnet. I’d like to hear from you about that. Thank you

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    • lindsayriedel says:

      Hi Debora – Congrats on your upcoming surgery! If I get a headache when using the attract, it’s usually at the magnet site and it’s more like a soreness than a headache. This happens when I wear the attract for several hours in a row after I’ve taken a day or so off from using it. And I can’t speak to the cold weather question – I live in Southern California (although during our “winter,” I didn’t notice any weather-related discomfort). Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any more questions 🙂

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  5. Kari Smith says:

    I love this blog and seeing input from other BAHA attract users. I’ve had mine since December and am enjoying it. There is a definite difference from when I have it on or off. I also do not get headaches but it can get slightly sore at the site from continuous use. I wear mine all day every day for about 14 hours. If it gets sore I simply remove it an readjust or leave it off about 30 minutes and reapply.

    I am curious how often users return to their audiologist for adjustments? Lindsey you said you live in Southern California. Can I ask where you go? I had my surgery done at USC and had a great surgeon. The audiologist……not crazy about. She stumbled through the set up as if it was the first time doing it. I live in Central California and have to drive 3 hours to USC. I would love to try another audiologist. I feel like there are more benefits that Im not receiving because I don’t know everything about the device.

    Thanks,
    Kari

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  6. linda devito says:

    Hi I just had the surgery on Monday for the attract. I have some swelling in my neck and it is Thursday. Is this normal?

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    • lindsayriedel says:

      Unfortunately, I’m not a doctor and therefore unqualified to give medical advice. I suggest contacting your ENT/surgeon. Congrats on your new hardware!

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  7. Rebekah says:

    so did you end up getting the attract? what is it like? i have a friend that has the connect and she really likes it, but they had to shave part of her hair away and it doesn’t grow back, do they do that with the attach?
    I was born completely deaf, and after 20 years i have just found out about this and i am super excited, but very nervous about the different types. so i wanted to know if you had any positive or negative experiences with the one you have.

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    • lindsayriedel says:

      Hi Rebekah – Overall, I like it a lot.
      – The hair shaving was really minimal (and I requested that they take as little as possible) and it’s grown back.
      – I do wish the actual unit was smaller – luckily I have a lot of hair and I’m able to cover it fairly easily but it sticks out more than I like.
      – I rarely get the feedback that’s typical of hearing aids (the whining, whistling noise) so that’s good. – – One negative thing that’s specific to the attract is that I’ve knocked it off a few times and when that happens it can go flying. Potentially embarrassing and not good for the baha to hit the ground like that; however, there are jewelry options out there that connect the baha to an earring so that if it gets knocked off there’s less of a chance it will hit the ground.
      – The sound can be a little tin-like, kind of shallow, but it’s way better than having little or no hearing.

      So clearly I have complaints about it, but the ability to hear on demand (and all the feelings that come with that) is pretty amazing. I’m glad I went with the attract – less maintenance on the connection site, the site is not visible when I’m not wearing the baha, and it’s great to be able to take it on and off easily. I hope that helps!

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  8. Silvia says:

    I’m ssd in the right ear since I was little and all my life 36 was struggle with this. My confidence is not as I wish to be and I’m sure that my hearing got a huge impact on it. For many years I’ve been trying to find something to improve my hearing like different cross hearing aids but without any results. Since few years I’m thinking about baha but the way how it looks it put me off for a long time. Recently I’m fed up with my ssd and I decided to try baha even though I still not really like how it looks (maybe it’s silly but I don’t like to be in the middle of attention and I’m sure this baha will be cosing people’s curiosity). I’ve been thinking which should I choose and I’m glad that I found your blog. I know that Atract looks bigger because of the outside magnet but abutment it’s more difficult to look after in terms of hygiene. Tomorrow I have appointment with ENT and hopefully they will have a good news for me as in UK I don’t have to pay for it therefore if you are not certain they won’t even try to recommend this for you. Year ago I went to ENT and had a baha on test band but didn’t have hardly any benefits of this therfore I wasn’t sure whether I will have any benefits of fitted baha. I wanted some advices of my doctor but he only said that if I’m not certain if I like it, not to do it. A bit disappointed I walked off. It’s for free so I guess they don’t bother to recommend it to people especially that NHS need to do savings. But as my ssd is so disturbing I have done more research and I’ve heard lots of good comments on baha and now I’m trying second time to get it. This time I’m more convenient about it. Will see what it will be tomorrow.
    Do you think that with not very thick hair will be hard to cover baha?

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  9. Brian says:

    I picked up my Baha5 processer with Attract system yesterday. Formerly had a BP100 with abutment. This required getting the surrounding tissue “trimmed” twice a year. No big deal. Long story short, I can barely hear a conversation using the new processor and magnet at max volume. I tried my BP100 on the magnet with the same result. I’m devastated. I used to be able to hear conversations, television, music, while blocking my “hearing” ear. No I just hear the sounds.

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    • lindsayriedel says:

      That seems like it would be really frustrating Brian, I am sorry to hear you’re going through that. I commend your bravery to try a new system, though! It can be a rough, painful, and expensive road, but you took a chance and that’s a very courageous decision.

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  10. Colette says:

    I just had baha attract surgery 6 days ago.I am 66 years old.It was much less invasive than I ever thought! I was put under light sedation and numbed good.I don’t remember any of that.When I woke up i was fully alert and in no pain.My surgery was at 7:30 am and I was out of there at 11:00 am.I can’t praise the staff enough at Lyndhurst surgery center in Cleveland,Ohio.They were so through about my medical history.They were very attentive to my needs;kept me warm and comfortable the whole time. I am healing well. I was on pain meds for discomfort for only a day and a half. I have continued to put antibiotic cream on the incision and keep it clean..I am now looking foreward to getting my processor in about 4 weeks.

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  11. kenny says:

    I’ve had SSD for as long as I can remember. I’m now 58. Last year, I purchased a cros aid but have not been quite pleased with it. There’s frequency interruptions occasionally and its quite annoying with those noises. Besides, It’s truly effective only in relatively quiet situations. When its crowded or noisy, it doesn’t really work. I’ve been contemplating the BAHA attract but worried that it might turn out to be less effective than I could hope for. What are your thoughts?

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    • lindsayr says:

      I haven’t noticed any frequency interruptions with the Baha. My primary complaint is the feedback that happens whenever the processor touches anything. An audiologist can help with this though – I’ve had the programming changed, so it’s getting better (it no longer reacts to light brushes from my hair, but pretty much anything else will produce feedback). For me, the Baha in large rooms is great as long as it isn’t too noisy (like a busy bar/restaurant is too noisy) – I can hear what someone is saying in group settings and from across the room. However, I don’t wear mine all the time and I’ve been told the more I wear it the better my brain will adapt and process sound in all environments. Overall, Kenny, I’m really grateful for the quality of life I’ve had because of the Baha. For you, I’d suggest consulting your ent or audiologist and request to try the tester baha. It’ll give you a sense of what it would be like to wear one, which was really helpful when I made my decision. I hope that helps!

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      • kenny says:

        Hi Lindsey
        Thank you so much for your input on this issue. I’ve also heard about Bonebridge implant and I’m wondering how that compares with the Baha 5. Tried googling it but it seems there are very few contents and even fewer discussions on bonebridge. Were you even given this option?

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      • lindsayr says:

        Hi Kenny,
        Unfortunately, I don’t have experience with Bonebridge (and I wasn’t given the option either). According to this article (a literature review on the different transcutaneous devices), the external bonebridge processor is smaller and it can withstand MRI machine up to 1.5 Tesla (the Baha Attract can’t). Have you talked to your audiologist about the pros and cons of each? Good luck! – Lindsay

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  13. Kristi says:

    A couple things I have not seen discussed very much is that when a doctor decides to begin implanting newer or different devices for whatever reason, their audiologists may no longer receive the updated software and may even discontinue servicing the model you have altogether. I have spent weeks trying to find a new facility to service my aids.

    Another thing I see very little about is the discomfort I get at the magnet site. The magnet always pressing on the skin in only one spot had at times developed pressure sores. This was downplayed by my implanting doctor so that I was quite disappointed to know I can’t wear them more than a couple hours at a time!

    A third item is metal detectors. I traveled by airplane between the first device and second device implantations. The detector was not an issue in any way. Have not traveled by plane since then, so am unsure if it is now an issue with both aids since my head is now more or less encircled with magnets. Our local library metal detector however, causes extreme pain and piercing squeals from the aids. Even if I remove the processors, I have this happen. It is definitely caused by the implanted magnets. No idea if it will happen with other detectors like airports now that I am bilaterally implanted.

    So good to see information is out now. I found very little when researching for my own BAHA journey.

    Like

    • lindsayr says:

      Hi Kristi! it’s interesting to hear that you’ve had issue with software and model types – I haven’t heard of that. what a bummer!!

      discomfort at the magnet site is a VERY REAL issue in my experience. so, so uncomfortable when it’s not done right. For example, I told my audiologist recently that my baha was falling off too easily – i felt like there was something wrong. her solution was to take the softpad off of the magnet (which essentially makes the exterior magnet strength stronger and made wearing is sooooo much more uncomfortable). every 45 minutes or so I’d have to take it off for 10 mintues before I could wear it again because the pull on the magnets was so painful. talk to your audiologist – there are ways around this (double the soft pads? use a different magnet strength? or find a different audiologist, lol. you shouldnt have to figure this out on your own!!) side note: turns out there was something wrong with where the processor connects to the magnet, something on mine was missing/broken. anyway, that’s unusual but worth noting.
      lastly, i haven’t had any issue at all with metal detectors. I’ve traveled several times (including international) since I got the baha and I haven’t once been questioned about it (although I leave the processor in my bag – i dont wear it through the machines).
      hope my insights help 🙂 – Lindsay

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      • MelPre says:

        KRISTI- Sorry I am late to this blog- I was looking for some advice of my own but will share some instead. I am a clinician (27 years) and have been a BAHA recipient for 12 years. I switched to the attract system 2 1/2 years ago. I have worked as a patient ambassador with Cochlear in the past (and I probably should not be writing this in a blog 🙂 ) but you absolutely should not be wearing your processor/magnet without the pad. DON’T DO IT! The system was designed ONLY to be worn with a pad to disperse the pressure as to not break down the skin. If you are being told to wear it without, I suggest that you call Cochlear (number is on their website) and ask to speak to a clinical patient rep. INSIST on that they help you triage the situation. Most likely, you need a second opinion with another clinician in your area. There is also a map on the Cochlear website so you can find another clinic on your own. Another clinic may have more experience and can offer you advice based on their experience. I would suggest looking for a clinic in a larger metropolitan area- a physician or audiologist that works in an area with population density is more likely to have the experience to help you. Look for a teaching facility (they tend to be “bigger” centers). A “good” audiologist should be able to help with magnet issues, programming issues (like “hearing your hair”, background noise, hearing wind, directional microphone issues, etc.).

        As for metal detector issues- airplane metal detectors should not be an issue. I’ve travelled dozens of times without issue. I’ve never had the issue with library metal detectors either. That being said, the magnets are polarized. They must be implanted in a certain direction in order for them to work properly- and I am left to wonder if your surgeon might have implanted them on an angle or something (which would explain the issue with the magnets and the metal detectors). Again- seek a second opinion- and they should be able to check the polarity. As for piercings, try wearing only ones made of metal not affected by magnets. For example, when I get my hair cut, I make sure that my hairdresser uses scissors that are not attracted to the magnets because one time, a hairdresser used scissors that were and “oops”, a big chunk of hair was accidentally cut off (I have short hair because after 12 years, I really don’t care what people think of my BAHA’s- I need to hear and that is more important that what they look like).

        Lastly- not sure if it was you or someone else, but yes, you can get an MRI- only up to 1.5 Tesla. I have had 2 MRI’s without issue.

        Overall, I like the attract much better than the older abutment style. Yes, they stick out further but the abutment was always infected on me (for a damn decade) and hurt like hell- I lived at the doctor’s office getting antibiotics and steroid injections. I finally switched doctors and had entire new implants put in. Way worth it!

        Hope this helps- good luck

        M

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  14. Dominique says:

    You have no idea how helpful this is! I have my surgery scheduled for the Baha Attract on Sept 29 which is about 3 more weeks from today! I just have a few questions for you

    1. How fast was your healing time? My boyfriend had booked tickets to see our local orchestra 2 days after my surgery (surgery is Friday, orchestra is on Sunday) and I was wondering if that would be enough time or if there would still be some discomfort.

    2. Post surgery, do you have to do anything with your hair? I know that my doctor said that I should just stay away from washing it for a few days, but I have no idea in terms of stitching or bandages what it would be like to still be a normal clean human being but also not disturbing any stitches.

    3. How was the adjustment period of dealing with the Baha once you got your processor programed and ready to use? I have single sided deafness in my left ear since I was little (about 8) and now I’m 25. I’m just tired of physically moving people over to my right side whenever they walk next to me or speak softly or picking a particular spot in the meeting room just so I can hear everyone.

    Thank you so much for your blog! There isn’t a lot of information out there about personal experiences with the BAHA attract system and I’m so happy that I came across your blog.

    Like

    • lindsayr says:

      Hi Dominique,
      it’s so nice to hear that the blog has been helpful for you. I started it for the same exact reasons you explained – I, too, needed a non-clinical perspective and I couldn’t find it. Answers to your questions:
      1. My healing time was just a few days, but that’s different for everyone. If your surgery is just the magnet (nothing else that they’re working on while you’re under anesthesia) I would guess that would be fine (but I’m not a doctor!) i’d suggest asking your surgeon her/his thoughts on it.
      2. post surgery healing (before the processor): I had very little issue, but i think it’s because i told them to be mindful of how much they shave. it’s important that you tell your doctor that your hair/the way it looks matters to you- it’ll help a lot if they listen. stitches might itch, but that feels like a minor problem to me. all that being said, making plans two days after surgery is ambitious – dont feel bad if you need to say no to plans. it’s SO understandable and completely fair to say no, especially so soon after.
      3. the adjustment for me was different than most. i didn’t need it 24/7 like most people – my hearing has been like a roller coaster (with all the surgeries) and i’ve relied on the baha as a bandaid when things aren’t going well. i can tell you, though, that the tech is amazing. if you have any problems (like feedback when your hair brushes it) or other issues, talk to you audiologist – it’s likely something they can fix with an easy tweak on their side. we’re lucky to live in a time where technology makes things so much easier for us as users.

      all that being said, i cannot emphasize enough that you need to be super clear with your audiologist and your doctor what you want. minimal hair shaving, specific placement (make sure it won’t get in the way of sunglasses and hats). After three years of wearing it on and off I can tell you that the baha is NOT a miracle solution. it definitely has its issues; however, it’s a wonderful alternative for people like me who can’t use the in-ear hearing aid options in pursuit of a better quality of life.

      Best wishes to you!!!!

      Like

  15. Marcia says:

    Thank you to all who have posted. My BAHA Attract surgery will be October 6 and every morning i awaken questioning my decision to do the surgery. I awoke last December with instant single-sided deafness with extreme, jet-sounding tinnitus in the deaf ear. My ENT has been clear that the surgery will not improve tinnitus or directionality of sound, but the soft-band test in various settings convinced we to try the BAHA. I will be coming back to this site to looks at posts as there is so little user-generated information out there.

    Like

  16. Stephanie says:

    Hi there.
    I just thought I’d leave a quick comment. I’ve had two failed (rejected) BAHA connects, and had the attract put in 5 days ago so I’ve not much experience with it yet. The two that failed were both infected badly dead smack on the 6 week post-op date. Hopefully this one decides to stick around (pun completely intended)!!!

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