Prodcedure:10 minutes - 2 hours
Anaesthesia:Local anaesthesia (with sedation for children under 13)
Back to Work:A few days to several weeks depending on the surgical procedure
Ear surgery (clinically known as Otoplasty) is the surgical procedure used to reshape structures of the outer ear. It is typically performed to correct the appearance of prominent ears. Furthermore, it can be applied to specific parts of the ear such as the ear lobe, in cases of a split earlobe – often caused by the prolonged use of heavy earrings or ear tunnels that stretch the pierced holes. Reconstructive ear surgery, on the other hand, is used for partial or full reconstruction of the outer ear to correct congenital disabilities or visible trauma.
Below we answer the questions that are posed to us most frequently during pre-operative consultations.
What is Otoplasty?
Ear surgery is performed to correct prominent, protruding ears, commonly known as “jug ears”. Surgery can be carried on both ears (bilateral otoplasty), or one ear (unilateral otoplasty). The main surgical goals are to correctly reconstruct the ear folds, repair defects of the earlobe, and reposition ears for a more balanced head-ear ratio.
How early can Otoplasty be performed?
Ear surgery can be carried out as early as six or seven years old, once the outer ear has fully developed. Intervention in these cases is usually determined by the emotional distress this issue causes, which often worsens when the child starts school and is the victim of teasing by other classmates. However, many adults also undergo this procedure.
How is Ear Surgery performed, and what are the resulting scars?
Standard ear surgery is carried out by making an incision behind the outer ear to access the cartilage. The cartilage is weakened and then folded, and dissolvable stitches are applied to support and secure the newly-shaped ear. The surgical scars are concealed on the back surface of the ear. Over time, the scars are barely noticeable. A minimally invasive alternative treatment to surgery is implanting a device known as Earfold.
How is Ear Surgery performed with Earfold
Earfold is a metal implant made from titanium and nickel with a 24-carat gold coating. These medical devices are already used in cardiovascular medicine. The U-shaped metal implants are inserted with an Earfold introducer to keep the implant flat. After positioning under the skin, the implant is released and returns to its original shape. The implants have thorn-like tips that penetrate and bend the cartilage to correct prominence.
What type of anaesthesia does Ear Surgery require?
Both standard ear surgery and Earfold implants are performed under local anaesthesia in patients over 15 years old. Whereas younger patients usually require a local anaesthetic with sedation.
What about the recovery period after Ear Surgery?
In standard ear surgery, the patient is discharged with a compression bandage to cover the whole head and provide support for the new ear position. Generally, ear surgery is an outpatient procedure; the patient may return home after post-operative monitoring, which lasts just a few hours. Patients receive a discharge form with a list of instructions to follow, regarding oral medication and post-operative conduct. This information supplements the pre-operative advice issued during the consultations and shall be reissued when the patient is discharged. The bandage is replaced with an elastic headband (generally, slightly wider than headbands that tennis players wear) one to two days after surgery. The patient must wear the headband day and night for one week after surgery, and then, at night for the following 30 days. Usually, it is not necessary to remove the stitches as this procedure uses a dissolvable variety. Earfold requires a small plaster to cover the tiny incision lines. A bandage is not necessary.
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What is cleft earlobe, and how can surgery treat this problem?
A cleft earlobe occurs when the earlobe divides in two. Earlobes can split due to pierced holes gradually enlarging from the weight of heavy earrings. Occasionally, the hole can stretch without splitting the earlobe. These cases can be treated with minimally invasive, in-office procedures, using local anaesthesia. Surgery aims to reconstruct the earlobe and allow the patient to wear earrings again, but the further use of oversized styles is best avoided to maintain the results of surgery.