Deformities of the external ear, or pinna, are extremely common. They may affect one ear or both ears. They take on many forms and have lots of different names such as bat ear or lop ear. They usually describe a failure of the upper portion of the ear to curl correctly in childhood, resulting in a rather prominent appearance to the ears.
As with most surgery the best way of correcting the ears is with a minimally invasive approach, leaving behind as much of the underlying cartilage as possible, and camouflaging the incisions behind the ear. The operation is called an Otoplasty.
An Otoplasty will correct prominent ears back into a more pleasing shape.
This procedure can be performed on children as young as 5 years old and on an adult well into their 70′s.
An Otoplasty is usually done under local anaesthesia with intravenous (IV) sedation, which is where the patient will be drowsy and sleepy and local anaesthetic is used, not a complete general anaesthesia.
The operation is performed behind the ear, where a small area of skin is excised in a dumb bell fashion and the underlying cartilage is weakened. No actual cartilage is removed in the procedure. Sutures that dissolve slowly over time are used to fashion the ear back into the desired shape. This is performed on both sides and then both sides are compared to make sure they are symmetrical before the wounds are closed behind the ear with sutures.
This is a very safe procedure with very few complications. The common complications include those of any surgery, such as wound infection, haematoma and bruising. Complications specific to this operation are unfolding of the ear and asymmetry or uneven ears. Unfolding occurs when the underlying tension within the cartilage of the ear is too great for the repair and the ear can unfold back to its pre-operative state. This complication, like asymmetry can be corrected at a later date. The total procedure takes about 2 hours and is very well tolerated by patients.
You will be admitted to the Surgery approximately half an hour prior to surgery. Although pre-operative checks will have already been done, this is time for last minute questions with your Surgeon and Anaesthetist. If you are having IV sedation you may not have anything to eat or drink for 6 hours prior to the surgery. The only exception is you may drink water only up to 2 hours before the procedure.
You will be allowed home within approximately 1 hour following your procedure with a person of your choice that must stay with you for a minimum of 24 hours, if you have had IV sedation. You will be given a light snack before going home.
Head bandages are applied for the first 48 hours. You may have swelling and bruising of the ears which will usually have resolved within 2 weeks. You may notice numbness around the ears which may persist for several months. You may experience some discomfort and will be prescribed pain relief.
Head bandages are removed after 48 hours and you may then shower. After that a tennis style headband is worn at night time only for the next 14 days. The Nurse will arrange the headband for you and it will be given to you to take home after the surgery.
You will need to sleep propped up on pillows for the first 48 hours to help minimise swelling and it is very important to avoid bending over, heavy lifting, alcohol consumption or vigorous activity for a week. Try to sleep on your back and be careful of your ears when taking clothing on or off.
Antibiotics are given to cover the risk of infection from the operation. You need to take your antibiotics as prescribed and will also be given a prescription for pain relief. It is important to take regular pain relief for the first 48 hours.
You will need to come back to the Clinic for a post operative check and any external sutures are removed by the Nurse after 7 days.
Most people are safe to go back to work in approximately 1 week.
If you are interested in this procedure for yourself or your child, you can telephone us on 02245 02245 to make a booking or fill out the online form.
In order to accurately record the results of the operation, we require medical photographs to be taken before and after the procedure. These photographs are confidential and will be kept on your patient file. They are a great way of comparing how your ears look before and after the surgery and you can request copies of the photographs for yourself.
The cost of the procedure varies depending on how long we estimate the correction will take and the extent of the prominence. We will discuss costs with you at your consultation and a quote for the procedure will be given after assessment of your ears.