Prominent Ear Correction

Length of operation: from 1 to 1.5 hours
Type of Anaesthesia: Local or General
Length of stay in hospital: day case
Recovery time: 10 to14 days for the bruising and swelling to subside. Full recovery is between 3 to 6months
Time off work: 1 to 2 weeks after operation

About Otoplasties: Ear surgery, otoplasty or pinnaplasty is usually performed as an outpatient procedure to set prominent ears back closer to the head or to reduce the size of large ears. Most patients who undergo otoplasty are between four and fourteen. Ear surgery on adults is also possible, and there are generally no additional risks associated with ear surgery on an older patient. However, having this procedure at a young age is desirable for two reasons – the cartilage is more pliable and will allow greater ease of shaping and the child will experience psychological benefits earlier from the cosmetic improvement. The prominence of the ear can be corrected by operating on the cartilage and causing it to bend backwards or removing a small piece of cartilage to decrease the protrusion of the ear from the side of the head.

Suitable candidates: You might wish to consider otoplasty if your earlobes are larger than normal, your ears are non-symmetrical or stick out disproportionately. Children who feel uncomfortable about their ears are also good candidates for this procedure.

Reasons not to go ahead: patients on blood thinning medicine, active smoking, overweight patients. Parents are advised to stay alert to their child’s feelings about protruding ears and not to insist on the surgery until and unless the child wants the change.

Pre op: The consultation with your surgeon will be your opportunity to discuss your expectations, learn about the surgery and ask queries or clarify any doubts you might have. The surgeon will perform an examination in order to be able to assess your individual needs and discuss the results in length with you.

On the day: If you decide to go ahead with the procedure, you will receive advice about what to do and what to avoid, prior to surgery. Following the operation, dissolving sutures are used to close the skin behind the ear. A dressing with cotton wool and a head bandage is applied.

Post op: An outpatient appointment is made for the bandage to be removed after a week. The ears will appear bruised and swollen but this tends to settle in approximately a fortnight. Patients can shower and wash their hair normally once the head bandage has been removed. The patient will receive a complete list of postoperative care instructions before leaving the hospital including how to care for the surgical site, medications to take, specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in overall health, and when to follow up with the surgeon. You will also be advised to avoid certain activities like taking aspirins, as they are a blood thinning agent, and avoiding any vigorous sport/exercise for 7 to 14 days following surgery. A soft elasticated headband must be worn at night in order not to catch the ears on the pillow while asleep for about three weeks after the original head bandage is removed.

Convalescence: Your ears and head will throb or ache for the first few days but this can be relieved with medication. You must take care of your ears and make sure that they do not bend for about a month. Contact sport is not allowed for four weeks following the operation.

Risks and complications: A small percentage of patients can have complications just like for any surgical procedure.
Infection: can be usually readily treated with an antibiotic.
Haematoma (blood clot under the skin) or bleeding:  a re-visit to the operating theatre may be necessary.
Delayed healing of the wound: particularly true in case of diabetic patients or those who smoke. This needs to be discussed with the surgeon during the consultation stage.
Asymmetry or inequality of the ears: might persist if the ears are of different shapes or of a different size.
Necrosis or loss of a small portion of skin on the anterior (inside) aspect of the ear: this may occur if the bandage exerts pressure in the postoperative phase because of swelling but is rare.
Unfavourable scarring: the scars usually settle well but hypertrophic (thick and lumpy) scarring is occasionally possible
Under correction or recurrence of the problem: the latter may occur if any internal stitch were to snap or come undone. In either case, a repeat procedure may be necessary.

Effects of the procedure: An otoplasty is a satisfying operation for the surgeon as it has a high rate of satisfaction – most patients are very pleased with the results, which are permanent. The patient needs to bear in mind that both ears might not match perfectly as this is both unlikely and unnatural in ears. The surgeon should have discussed this before the operation.