Prominent or protruding ears, commonly known as “bat ears” are present in 1-2% of the population. Although they do not cause any physical problems some people, especially children, may be severely teased about their ears and feel very self-conscious.
Otoplasty, also referred to as pinnaplasty, is the surgical treatment used to correct unwanted anatomical variations in these parts of the ear:
- Antehelical fold: the outer rim of the ear should bend backwards, producing a forward curve – the antehelical fold. In many cases of prominent ear, this is poorly formed or absent.
- Conchal bowl: the round, shell-like part surrounding the ear canal. It may be larger or rotated outwards and often co-exists with a poor antehelical fold.
More questions about otoplasty?
At your consultation your general health will be assessed, as well as the specific shape of your ears. You will need to be in good health, with good healing prospects, and must stop smoking before and after the operation. Another consideration is aspirin and aspirin-like medications, which should be avoided to prevent bleeding.
Otoplasty is usually performed under a general anaesthetic, and patients are usually able to go home the same day, although your surgeon will advise you about your specific circumstances.
An incision is made in a crease behind the ear, after which the cartilage will be remodelled and fixed with permanent internal stitches. If the conchal bowl needs to be reduced, this is done through this same incision so that there are no extra scars. You will have a follow-up consultation after 6-12 weeks.
You can start light activities as soon as you leave hospital, but nothing strenuous. You need to leave the dressing alone until the dressing appointment, 7-10 days after surgery. There may be some slight discomfort, but paracetamol is usually enough to deal with it.
Once your dressing is removed it must be replaced by an elasticated headband which must be worn at night and as much as possible during the day.
Although it takes only two weeks to recover from otoplasty, you cannot resume any contact sports for three months.
All surgical operations carry risks, but with modern techniques complications are rare. These will be discussed in detail with your surgeon at the pre-operative consultation. You need to be aware that your results might not quite live up to your expectations, so be realistic. Your surgeon will be able to advise you more on what the likely end result will be.