Ear shape is maintained by the internal cartilage; in some people the ears may protrude beyond the “norm”, or be subject to other variations that cause the patient to want a corrective procedure.
Prominence can be adjusted by operating on the cartilage to cause it to bend backwards; or a small piece of may be removed to achieve the desired result.
Why do people seek correction of prominent ears?
Deviation from the perception of “cosmetic perfection” can lead to self-consciousness in some patients. Although some people may regard “wing-nut” as a terms of endearment, others might not, and in extreme cases the condition may lead to children being bullied at school. Some may chose to wear their hair long to keep them covered, and even avoid participation in sport, swimming or other activities that may reveal an irregular ear condition. In extreme cases, this can lead to problems at school and a lack of confidence in the work and social environment.
When can ear surgery be undertaken?
The ear does not reach a viable adult size until approximately six to seven years of age; except in unusual circumstances (eg injury repair) it is advisable to wait until at least this age to carry out the procedure.
What does the surgery involve?
Surgery can be performed under general or local anaesthetic, with sedation. Following an incision behind the ear, a small ellipse of skin is removed. The ear cartilage is exposed and either scored to cause it to bend, or few nonabsorbable sutures are used to curl the cartilage to the desired shape. Sometimes a a small piece of cartilage is removed to set the ear back as desired. Dissolving sutures are used to close the skin behind the ear, which is dressed with cotton wool, and a head bandage applied for week.
What is the normal postoperative process?
Majority of my patients go home the same day after a couple of hours. Patients are advised to sleep with head end propped up on three pillows for the first night. The head bandage is then removed as an outpatient procedure after a week. Patients are advised to keep one pillow on each side whilst sleeping to avoid sleeping on one ear for first three weeks. After bandage removal, the ears will appear bruised and swollen – but this tends to settle in around two weeks.
Patients can shower and wash their hair normally once the head bandage has been removed. A soft elasticated headband must be worn at night in order not to catch the ears on the pillow while asleep. Contact sport is not allowed for at least six weeks following the operation.
What are the potential complications?
As with any other operation, surgery for prominent ear correction can have complications such as bleeding, haematoma (blood clot on the skin), infection. Specifically, asymmetry, temporary numbness of ears and the scar behind the ear may become lumpy and tender. We after examination, we will discuss any further issues specific to this operation with the patient.