Bone-anchored hearing aids, or BAHA for short, are surgically implanted hearing devices. They aren’t the most common solution to hearing problems, but can provide positive outcomes for specific types of hearing difficulty or when the use of hearing aids is not possible. 

What are BAHA hearing aids?

BAHA hearing aids are two-part hearing devices consisting of a surgically implanted titanium device and an external shell containing a microphone and sound processor.

Did you know?
BAHA hearing aids are best-suited for people with a condition known as single-sided deafness.

Most types of hearing aids use microphones, amplifiers, and tiny speakers to conduct sound to the middle ear, after which soundwaves travel to the inner ear and auditory nerve. BAHA hearing aids take a different approach. Sounds are converted to vibrations and transmitted through the bone to a titanium implant just behind the ear. These sounds then vibrate through the bone to the inner ear. Sensitive hairs in the inner ear’s cochlea detect the vibrations as soundwaves that are passed on to the auditory nerve. By sending sound vibrations directly to the inner ear BAHA hearing aids can bypass problems in the middle ear and ear canal that limit hearing.  

Advantages of BAHA hearing aids

While not for everyone, BAHA hearing aids have some advantages over non-implant hearing aids. BAHA hearing aids are comfortable to wear and no more noticeable than a mini behind-the-ear hearing aid, so you don’t have to be concerned with appearance.

Reversible

The surgery required to implant BAHA titanium devices is reversible and will not damage your existing hearing. This allows you to take advantage of potential advances in hearing treatments in the future, as the middle ear, inner ear, and auditory nerve are not affected by surgery.

Avoid Complications

BAHA hearing aids are not susceptible to excessive earwax or fluid buildup in the ear, which can damage the earmolds used with other types of hearing aid. If you have sensitive skin, earmolds can cause irritation or even allergic reactions. BAHA hearing aids avoid these potential complications. 

Additional Features

BAHA hearing aids may also support added features, such as Bluetooth connectivity with Apple products, music players, televisions, and phones. 

When it comes to patient satisfaction, the International Journal of Health Sciences reports a high degree of satisfaction related to speech perception, sound amplification, and listening to music or the television. The publication determined 90% of BAHA hearing aid users use their hearing aid every day of the week for more than eight hours a day. If you’re a candidate for BAHA hearing aids, they can improve more than just your hearing--they can improve your quality of life. To learn more about BAHA hearing aids, contact a licensed hearing aid professional.

90%

of BAHA hearing aid users use their hearing aid every day of the week.

FAQs about BAHA hearing aids

Is BAHA hearing aid the same as cochlear implant?

BAHA hearing aids are not the same as cochlear implants. A BAHA hearing aid sends vibrations to the cochlea that are passed on to the auditory nerve as nerve signals. A cochlear implant, in contrast, stimulates the auditory nerve directly. While hearing with BAHA hearing aids sounds like normal hearing, the signals sent by a cochlear implant sound very different, and it takes time to learn how to process them. Only people with exceptionally severe hearing loss or the deaf are considered candidates for cochlear implants.

Who should consider BAHA hearing aids?

BAHA hearing aids are best-suited for people with a condition known as single-sided deafness. People living with single-sided deafness have lost all hearing in one ear, while the second ear may be healthy or have some degree of hearing loss. People with single-sided deafness may have difficulty detecting where sounds come from and may struggle to understand speech in environments with high degrees of background noise. Causes of single-sided deafness include the growth of auditory nerve tumors, Meniere’s Disease, and SSHL (sudden sensorineural hearing loss).

BAHA hearing aids offer a solution to people who cannot wear other types of hearing aid due to malformation of the middle ear or ear canal. Malformations of the external ear (or the absence of the external ear due to trauma or congenital defects) can also prevent the use of non-BAHA types of hearing aids.

Chronic ear conditions may also indicate the need for BAHA hearing aids. Chronic and severe ear infections, for instance, can cause fluid to drain from the middle ear into the ear canal, blocking and damaging the earmolds used with other types of hearing aid. A small section of the population has serious allergic reactions to the materials used in earmolds. In such cases BAHA hearing aids offer hearing treatment solutions.

Both adults and children can use BAHA hearing aids. BAHA implant devices are FDA-approved for children over the age of five. For younger children, a BAHA hearing aid with a soft, adjustable headband is available. 

How is a BAHA hearing aid implanted?

Implanting a BAHA hearing aid isn’t a complicated procedure. The surgery is performed on an outpatient basis by an ear, nose, and throat doctor or surgical specialist. The operation takes place under either general or local anesthesia and takes about an hour.

During the procedure, the surgeon removes the skin from a small area behind the ear. A hole is drilled into the mastoid bone, which lies just behind the ear, and a 2-3mm titanium implant is inserted. A small portion of the implant may protrude slightly from the skin for attaching the external portion of the hearing aid (some models use magnets to connect the external sound processor to the implant). The skin is then sewn back into position.

As the bone surrounding the implant heals, the implant bonds with the bone in a process known as osseointegration.

How much do BAHA hearing aids cost?

BAHA hearing aids can cost $10,000 or more, in part due to the need for surgical implantation. Depending on your insurance plan, your insurance company may pay for the procedure. Some also cover the cost of the processor. If your insurance company does not cover BAHA hearing aids, you may need to consider financing or other ways to pay for hearing aids. 

What type of batteries do BAHA use?

BAHA hearing aids typically use type 13 (orange) and type 675 (blue) disposable zinc-air batteries. Some BAHA hearing aids produce a low noise or buzz when less than an hour of battery life remains. Though rechargeable BAHA batteries are not currently available on the market, they are being developed. 

How is a BAHA hearing aid implanted?

Implanting a BAHA hearing aid isn’t a complicated procedure. The surgery is performed on an outpatient basis by an ear, nose, and throat doctor or surgical specialist. The operation takes place under either general or local anesthesia and takes about an hour.

During the procedure, the surgeon removes the skin from a small area behind the ear. A hole is drilled into the mastoid bone, which lies just behind the ear, and a 2-3mm titanium implant is inserted. A small portion of the implant may protrude slightly from the skin for attaching the external portion of the hearing aid (some models use magnets to connect the external sound processor to the implant). The skin is then sewn back into position.

As the bone surrounding the implant heals, the implant bonds with the bone in a process known as osseointegration

Are surgical complications associated with BAHA?

Like any surgery, BAHA implantation comes with certain risks. While rare, chronic infections, trauma, and a failure of the bone to osseointegrate are possible. Soft tissue complications, such as skin irritation, bleeding, and pain are more common, but can usually be resolved with topical treatments. Children seem to be more susceptible to post-surgical complications than adults, and in all cases keeping the surgical site clean reduces the risk of complications. 

How soon will I be able to hear after a BAHA?

Recovery time after BAHA surgery is quite rapid. You should be able to return to your normal life the next day, and the skin will heal over the next two weeks. The implant must fully bond to the surrounding bone before BAHA hearing aids can be used. This means a waiting time of anywhere from three to four months, depending on the hearing aid manufacturer’s specifications. This period is longer for children, who normally have to wait six months before full osseointegration takes place. 

How do I know if BAHA hearing aids are right for me?

Not everyone is a suitable candidate for a BAHA hearing aid. Arranging a consultation with an audiologist is your first step. If the audiologist recommends BAHA hearing aids, they’ll often allow you to get a sense of how a BAHA device will sound and feel by offering an in-office demonstration of the device.

With you on your journey to better hearing.

It's time to finally treat your hearing loss. Sign up for a free consultation with a licensed hearing care professional today to determine if you have hearing loss. It’s the start of your journey towards better hearing.

EarPros benefits:

  • Free no obligation hearing test
  • best partner with more than 1.000 stores

Please use a valid US zipcode.

Please use a valid postcode.

Thank you for submitting your request

We will get in touch with you as soon as possible.
The content of this page or of an article contained therein may refer/be applicable to a specific territory different from your country of residence.

Learn more on hearing implants & hearing aids

Schedule a free hearing aid consultation