Prominent Ear Correction
Around 1% – 2% of the UK population consider their ears to be too prominent. In many cases the shape and lie of the ears is inherited, and a family trend can be seen. The most prominent ears often lack a normal fold, and sometimes the ears can be uneven. People with prominent ears are often self-conscious about their shape yet the correctional procedure is relatively simple and extremely positive results are often achieved.
What does the procedure involve?
Pinnaplasty, or otoplasty, is an operation that adjusts the shape of the cartilage within the ear to create the missing folds and to allow the ear to lie closer to the side of the head. Because the operation is performed from behind the ears, a small scar is left close to the groove between the ear and the side of the head often leaving it almost unnoticeable.
The procedure can be done under local anaesthetic, but in young children general anaesthetic is usually required. Where the lobe of the ear is especially large, a small procedure to reduce its size may also be required.
Is this treatment right for you?
When an ear is noted to be prominent within the first few weeks of life, it is possible to reshape it non-invasively by applying a small splint to the rim. The cartilage or gristle of a new-born’s ear is very floppy and easily remoulded, and after several weeks of wearing a splint a permanent correction can be achieved. The older the child, the more stiff the cartilage and the longer the period of splintage must be. By the age of six months the cartilage is too hard to be remoulded and a surgical solution is required, this solution can be carried out at any stage of a patients’ lifetime.
What are the limitations?
There are few limitations to having a pinnaplasty. When regarding children, your consultant may advise to wait until the child has reached their seventh birthday but this is dependent on the severity of the prominence and the procedure can be carried out at a younger age if necessary.
For adults, there are no specific limitations. As with all operations there is a risk involved, the better your general health and being a non-smoker is advisable as this will aid the post-operative healing process.
What are the consequences?
A small protective dressing is usually worn after the surgery for up to a week after surgery. Once the dressing is removed, it is wise to wear a protective headband or bandage for the following month when sleeping to avoid the ears being bent forward against the pillow.
The ears may be sore and tender for several weeks and painkilling medication such as Paracetamol or Ibruprofen may be required. The scar behind the ear usually settles well, but on rare occasions it can become red and lumpy.
A small number of patients, particularly those who are very sensitive about the precise shape of their ears, may require a minor adjustment procedure. Most patients, however, are extremely pleased by the results.
Any further issues will be dealt with by your consultant and his team in your comprehensive aftercare.