Ear Correction (Otoplasty)

Ears come in many shapes, sizes and prominence but some children and adults, with otherwise normal ears, feel that theirs mark them out as different. The most common concern is with so called prominent ears and BPS surgeons will sympathetically offer a plastic surgery procedure called an otoplasty or more usually, correction of prominent ears.

To book a consultation with a BPS surgeon please phone us today on 0117 910 2400.

Preparation for Surgery

Obtain a soft sports headband of comfortable size to wear over the ears after the operation. The hair should be washed the day before surgery. No hair will be removed at operation. Follow the general advice regarding treatments and in particular avoid aspirin and indomethacin containing tablets and medicines.

Procedure

Children will usually have a general anaesthetic and adults local anaesthetic. The operation will last about 90 minutes. An incision is made behind the ear with the eventual line scar lying in the crease or close to it. Sutures, carefully placed and tensioned, will reposition and alter the shape of the ear. Sometimes a little cartilage requires to be removed. After closing with sutures, the ears are carefully splinted and cushioned in a dressing which covers both ears and wraps around the head. You will go home later the same day.

After Care

The operation is not a painful one, but there may be some discomfort. This is best controlled with paracetamol.

The bandage should remain in place for one week when it will be removed along with any non dissolving sutures. The hair and the area behind the ears can now be gently washed taking care not to push the ears forward and to avoid rubbing.

At night, a sports head band must be worn for 6 weeks. This is to protect the ears and prevent them being distorted on the pillow.

Implications

There will be a little bruising and swelling around the ears and the nearby neck. Children should take a week off school and when they return, should not go into the playground for a further week. Children and adults should avoid contact sports and activities, including swimming for 6 weeks after the operation. Adults can return to work as soon as the head bandage is removed.

The rim of the ear may be numb for 6 - 9 months after surgery and care should be taken to avoid burning with hair dryers and in the sun. Use sun block for about a year after the operation. The scar should lie out of sight behind the ear but can also benefit from sun cream.

Expectations

The operation is usually successful and to the delight of the patient. We recognise however that there is a risk that the position of the ear may not be maintained and some prominence recur. We do our utmost to avoid this but a further correction may be required.

Normal ears are rarely of equal size and prominence and it would be worth carefully assessing the ears before the operation as some asymmetry, within the normal range, may well persist after operation.

Complications

As with any operation, there is a small risk of infection and of a blood collection under the skin. The latter would require a procedure to remove the blood as soon as it is discovered. Neither are common occurrences.

The scar which lies out of sight behind the ear can occasionally become red, raised and itchy. This condition is called hypertrophic scarring and if you know you have such a tendency please tell your surgeon. This may require some local treatment over the following months. The incidence is between 1 - 2 %.

Major complications such as cartilage or skin loss can occur but are very rare. Smoking impairs the skin blood supply and like the drugs mentioned in General Advice, can also increase the risk of bleeding.

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