ALL SURGERY CARRIES SOME UNCERTAINTY AND RISK
When ear surgery is performed by a qualified, experienced surgeon, complications are infrequent and usually minor. Nevertheless, as with any operation, there are risks associated with this procedure.
A small percentage of patients may develop a blood clot on the ear. It may dissolve naturally or can be drawn out with a needle.
Occasionally, a patient can develop an infection of the cartilage, which can cause scar tissue to form. Such infections are usually treated with antibiotics. Surgery may be required to treat the infected area, but this is a rare occurrence.
PLANNING FOR SURGERY
Most surgeons recommend that parents stay alert to their child’s feelings about protruding ears and don’t insist on the surgery until your child wants the change. Children who feel uncomfortable about their ears and want the surgery are generally more cooperative during the healing process and happier with the outcome.
WHERE THE SURGERY WILL BE PERFORMED
Ear surgery is performed in an outpatient surgery center.
TYPES OF ANESTHESIA
The surgery is usually performed with general anesthesia, so the patient will sleep through the operation.
Ear surgery typically takes about two to three hours, although complicated procedures may take longer. The technique used will depend on the problem. Usually a small incision is made in the back of the ear to expose the ear cartilage. The cartilage is then sculpted in the appropriate areas to create the natural folds. The cartilage will be sculpted and bend back toward the head. Non-removable permanent stitches are used to help maintain the new shape.
Ear surgery will leave a faint scar in the back of the ear that will fade with time.
GETTING BACK TO NORMAL
Adults and children are usually up and around within a few hours of surgery. The patient’s head will be wrapped in a bulky bandage immediately following surgery to protect and promote the best molding and healing. The ears may throb or ache a little for a few days, but this can be relieved by medication.
In about 10 days, the bulky bandages will be replaced by a lighter head dressing similar to a headband. Be sure to follow your surgeon’s directions for wearing this dressing, especially at night.
Stitches usually dissolve in about a week or two.
Any activity in which the ear might be bent should be avoided for a couple of months. Most adults can go back to work once the bandage is removed. Children need to be careful about playground activity. You may want to ask your child’s teacher to keep an eye on the child for a few weeks. It will be 6-8 weeks before the ears are as strong as normal ears.
Besides protruding ears, there are a variety of other ear problems that can be helped with surgery. Surgery can also improve large or stretched earlobes, or lobes with large creases and wrinkles that can be treated in the office under local anesthesia.
MORE NATURAL LOOKING EARS
Most patients, young and old alike, are thrilled with the results of ear surgery. But keep in mind, the goal is improvement not perfection. Don’t expect both ears to match perfectly as perfect symmetry is unlikely and unnatural in ears. If you’ve discussed the procedure and your expectations with the surgeon before the operation, chances are you’ll be quite pleased with the result.