All too often, patients with differences in the size or shape of their ears turn to surgery only when their self-esteem hits rock bottom. It’s hard to ignore childish taunts which start at school but which unfortunately follow you through to university and into the workplace. Even among friends, large, prominent or unusually shaped ears can still make you feel self-conscious and lacking in confidence.
Ear correction surgery, also known as pinnaplasty or otoplasty, is a relatively straight-forward procedure which can solve the problem once and for all. It can be used to pin prominent ears, reduce large ears as well as treat lop ear, when the tip seems to fold down and forward, as well as cupped ear, where the ear is unusually small. Patients with shell ear, in which the natural folds and creases are missing, can also undergo surgery.
We will discuss the right approach when you attend your initial consultation, so you know what to expect.
Generally, ear pinning surgery takes two to three hours and can be carried out as a day-patient, although an overnight stay can be arranged, if preferred, while the effects of the anaesthetic fully wear off.
The actual procedure involves a small incision in the back of the ear to expose the cartilage which is then sculpted and bent back towards the head. Non-removable stitches may be used to help maintain the new shape.
Occasionally it may be necessary to remove a larger piece of cartilage to provide a more natural looking fold. However, sometimes it may not be necessary to remove cartilage at all – a new shape can be created by making an incision in the back of the ear, removing skin and using stitches to fold the cartilage back on itself.
In most cases, ear surgery will leave a faint scar in the back of the ear that will fade over time.
Ear surgery complications are infrequent and usually minor. However, as with any operation there are certain risks and complications. For example, a small number 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.
In most cases, ear surgery will leave a faint scar in the back of the ear that will fade with time.
We will discuss the risks in detail with you when you attend your initial consultation.
As this appointment, we will assess the ears and determine what can be achieved through plastic surgery. This will help you to decide whether surgery will give the results you’re looking for.
During the initial consultation, we will discuss every aspect of corrective ear surgery with you, including providing detailed information about the surgical techniques to be used, and what’s involved in preparing for and recovering from such as procedure.
We can support parents who are exploring ear surgery for their child. We always recommend that parents explore their child’s feelings about protruding ears and don’t insist on surgery until the child wants to make the change. Children who feel uncomfortable about their ears and go willingly into ear correction surgery are generally more co-operative during the process and happier with the outcome.
If the surgery is to be carried out on a child, and depending on the age of the child, the initial consultation meeting can help to quash any fears they may have about attending hospital and undergoing surgery. We find that the more information people have about their procedure, the better equipped they are to prepare and recover from their surgery.
We’re here to help you prepare yourself or your child for surgery to minimise anxiety and to make the treatment go as smoothly as possible.
You will be given specific instructions including guidance on eating, drinking and smoking as well as taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications before surgery.
If the surgery is for yourself, you’ll need to arrange for someone to drive you home afterwards, and to help you out for a few days, so that you can get plenty of rest at home.
In some instances, an overnight stay may be advisable, especially with children, while the effects of anaesthesia wear off.
When the surgery is complete, the head will be wrapped in a bulky bandage to help achieve the best shape and to protect the ears while they heal. The ear may throb or ache a little for a few days, but this can be relieved with medication.
Within a few days, the bandages can be replaced with a lighter head dressing and we’ll give you specific instructions for wearing this dressing, particularly at night. Non-dissolvable stitches are usually removed in about a week while dissolvable stitches usually disappear within six weeks.
You’ll need to avoid any activity in which the ear might be bent for a month or so. Most adults can go back to work about five days after surgery and children can go back to school after seven days, as long as it’s possible to ensure they are careful about playground activity. It’s a good idea to ask your child’s teacher to keep an eye on them for a few weeks.
Yes, surgery can be carried out on one or both ears.
It’s important that you approach the subject with sensitivity. It’s important that your teenager feels able to make up their own mind about surgery. If they do seem to want surgery, the best information can be obtained by talking directly to a Plastic Surgeon. Avoid any organization that offers consultations with a nurse or ‘sales consultant’.
Once your scars have settled down they will be very discreet so no-one else need know you have had ear correction surgery.
*Disclaimer: Results may vary from person to person