Prominent Ear Correction (Pinnaplasty or otoplasty)
The surgery to correct prominent ears is called pinnaplasty or otoplasty. The variation in shape between different people’s ears is immense. Indeed, many will notice a different shape between their left and their right ears. However, the reason most people are unhappy about their ears, is if they appear to be sticking out too prominently from their face.
The reason for such ear prominence is often a failure to form a fold of the ear cartilage called the anti-helical fold. This is the fold that forms between the bowl (concha) part of the ear and the outer rim of the ear. Another reason may be that the bowl part of the ear ‘juts out’ too much from the side of the face. In some people both causes are the reason for their ear prominence.
Over the years, a variety of surgical techniques have been described to reshape the ear cartilage. Techniques that cut into or remove part of the cartilage of the ear are often successful, but do run a higher risk of complications. Mr Kirkpatrick favours surgical techniques that use sutures (stitches), placed in the cartilage to remodel and rotate it; as this is less traumatic to the ear, and there is a lower risk of surgical complications. The surgery is carried out from the back of the ear so that the resulting (usually fine) scar is hidden in the natural crease between the back of the ear and the scalp. This surgery can be performed under General or Local Anaesthesia, although in younger children general anesthesia is usually advocated.
How long will I need to stay in hospital?
Although some people will prefer to stay overnight after surgery, many patients are able to go home the same day after pinnaplasty surgery. Occasionally, there may be problems with nausea and sickness that necessitates an overnight stay until food is comfortably tolerated.
How long does it take to recover from pinnaplasty surgery?
Although there is some minor discomfort after pinnaplasty surgery it is not usually painful. There may be some bruising and swelling of the ears. This has most often settled by four weeks. A sports head band is advocated all the time for the first few weeks, then only necessary at night. This is to stop the sutures loosening if the ear is pulled accidentally by someone or something. It is wise to avoid contact sports for a few weeks for similar reasons.
How long does pinnaplasty surgery last?
Pinnaplasty results are usually life long, especially if the problem has not recurred within the first six months.
Baby Ear Molding
Prominent ears, or unusually shaped ears, may be noticed by parents in their newborn babies. During the first few weeks of life, the ear cartilage is very delicate, and it is often possible to use moulding techniques to generate or modify the folds in the ear cartilage, and so correct the prominence or abnormal shape of the ears. Ear moulding may prevent the need for surgical correction when older. The technique involves the use of simple soft rubberised wire and sticky tapes, and is not painful for the baby. Usually the moulding is performed over a period of a few weeks. Often moulding is very successful, and is more likely to be so when started shortly after birth. In some babies only a little or no improvement is achieved. Often less improvement is seen when the treatment is started after the baby’s first week, although there is little harm in trying.
Repair Of Split Earlobes
Tearing, widening of earlobe piercings or complete splitting of the earlobes is a common problem due either to trauma or the wearing of heavy ear-rings over time, making it impossible to wear ear-rings. Repair of the earlobes is a straight forward procedure which can be done under local anaesthetic. It is usually wise to wait a few a months for the earlobe to be strong again before re-piercing and Mr Kirkpatrick has a technique to do this to minimise any problems for the future.