Prominent Ear Surgery

If you are considering ear correction surgery for yourself or your child, there may be some questions you’d like answered. Ear surgery, pinnaplasty or otoplasty, is usually done to set prominent ears back closer to the head or to reduce the size of large ears.

If you’re considering prominent ear surgery

Besides protruding ears, there are a variety of other ear problems that can be helped with surgery. These include “lop ear,” when the tip seems to fold down and forward; “cupped ear,” which is usually a very small ear; and “shell ear,” when the curve in the outer rim, as well as the natural folds and creases, are missing. Surgery can also improve large or stretched earlobes, or lobes with large creases and wrinkles. Surgeons can even build new ears for those who were born without them or who lost them through injury.

Sometimes, however, the ear correction surgery can leave a scar that’s worse than the original problem. I will be happy to explain about the effectiveness of ear correction surgery in your specific case.
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The best candidates for prominent ear surgery

For the most part, the operation can be done on children between the ages of four and fourteen. Prominent ear correction or otoplasty surgery on adults is also possible, and there are generally no additional risks associated with ear surgery on an older patient.
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All surgery carries some uncertainty and risk

Ear surgery complications are infrequent and usually minor. However, as with any operation, there are certain risks and complications associated with surgery and specific complications associated with this ear correction procedure.

A small percentage of patients may develop a blood clot on the ear. This may dissolve naturally or can be drawn out with a needle. Occasionally, patients develop an infection in the cartilage, which can cause scar tissue to form. Such infections are usually treated with antibiotics although, rarely, surgery may be required to drain the infected area.
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Planning your surgery

During your initial consultation, I will evaluate and assess the scope of correction required and recommend the most effective technique.

We recommend that parents stay alert to their child’s feelings about protruding ears and don’t insist on the ear correction surgery until your child wants the change. Children who feel uncomfortable about their ears and want the ear correction surgery are generally more cooperative during the process and happier with the outcome.
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Preparing for your surgery

Your will be given instructions to help you prepare yourself or your child for surgery. These may include guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications.

If you are having ear surgery yourself, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after your ear surgery and to help you out for a few days, if needed.

You or your child will usually be admitted on the day of surgery, and stay until the early evening. Occasionally, an overnight stay will be required. If you are having surgery yourself, you will need a friend or relative to accompany you home after your stay in the hospital.
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The surgery

With one of the more common techniques, a small incision is made in the back of the ear to expose the ear cartilage. The cartilage is then sculpted and bent back toward the head. Non-removable stitches may be used to help maintain the new shape. Occasionally, the surgeon will remove a larger piece of cartilage to provide a more natural-looking fold when the surgery is complete.

Another technique involves a similar incision in the back of the ear. Skin is removed and stitches are used to fold the cartilage back on itself to reshape the ear without removing cartilage.

In most cases, ear surgery will leave a faint scar in the back of the ear that will fade with time. Even when only one ear appears to protrude, surgery is usually performed on both ears for a better balance. Ear surgery usually takes about two to three hours, although complicated procedures may take longer. The technique will depend on the problem.
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After your surgery

Adults and children are usually up and around within a few hours of surgery, although you may prefer to stay overnight in the hospital with a child until all the effects of general anaesthesia wear off.

The patient’s head will be wrapped in a bulky bandage immediately following surgery to promote the best moulding and healing. The ears may throb or ache a little for a few days, but this can be relieved by medication.
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Getting back to normal

Within a few days, bulky bandages will be replaced by a lighter head dressing. You will need to follow directions for wearing this dressing, especially at night. Non-dissolvable stitches are usually removed in about a week. Dissolvable stitches usually disappear within six weeks.

Any activity in which the ear might be bent should be avoided for a month or so. Most adults can go back to work about five days after surgery. Children can go back to school after seven days or so, if they’re careful about playground activity. You may want to ask your child’s teacher to keep an eye on the child for a few weeks.
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Your new look

Most patients, young and old alike, are thrilled with the results of prominent ear surgery as long as they keep in mind that the goal is improvement, not perfection. Don’t expect your ears to match perfectly as symmetry is both unlikely and unnatural in ears. If you’ve discussed the procedure and your expectations before the operation, it’s likely that you’ll be pleased with the result.
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