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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31 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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