Ear correction surgery (otoplasty)
Prominent ear correction (or otopalsty) works to reduce the amount an ear sticks out (or is prominent) by altering the structure of the ear cartilage and adjusting the angle of the ear with respect to the skull so that the ear sits in a more anatomic location. There are many ways of undertaking prominent ear correction but suture correction, favoured by Mr. MacQuillan, is one of the most reliable and reproducible methods available.
The aims are to symmetrise the shape of the ears, produce a natural looking ante helical fold (the crease that is often missing in prominent ears and causes the ear to appear bowl shaped or bat ear shaped) and to set the ears back against the side of the head.
Frequently asked questions
What does ear correction surgery (Otoplasty) involve?
Prominent ear correction surgery is performed by making an incision behind each ear allowing access to the cartilage underneath. The ideal position of the ante helical fold is marked out on the cartilage and permanent sutures are placed on the posterior surface of the ear cartilage to mold the shape of the ear. Once the ideal ear shape has been created a second set of sutures are placed at the base of the ear (the conchal bowl) to pull the whole ear closer to the side of the head. The incision is sewn up and a lightweight sweat band (think tennis sweat band) type dressing is placed over the ears and head.
What will happen on the day of the surgery?
You will come into hospital on the day of your prominent ear correction and be admitted to your room. You will be seen by Mr. MacQuillan in your room, and he will run over the surgical plan with you one final time. You will be reviewed by the consultant anaesthetist who will be putting you to sleep, and given the opportunity to ask any questions you may have regarding the anaesthetic. When you are ready you will be taken down to theatres for your operation.
Can ear correction surgery be done under local anaesthetic?
Yes, prominent ear correction can be done under local anaesthetic, though there is also the opportunity to have the procedure done under general anaesthetic.
What is the recovery period for ear correction surgery?
For the first week after the procedure you will need to wear the headband continuously, following which you can remove it for daytime activities. You will need to continue to sleep with the headband on for a further 5 weeks. Your ears will feel sore for the first few days post operatively, though this should settle quickly. You can return to normal activities after the first week but will need to avoid anything likely to knock you ears for 2 months, this holds especially true for contact sports. If the ear is subject to force during the recovery period there is a chance that the sutures holding the ear in place will snap and the shape of the ear will be lost. By 8 weeks following the operation the scar tissue that forms following the procedure will be strong enough to resist any such knocks and you can resume all activities.
Is there a chance the suture may come apart in recovery?
It is inevitable that some people will sustain knocks to their ears following prominent ear correct that results in the loss of shape of the ear. Additionally sometimes sutures give way and a there is a reported recurrence rate of between 5 and 10%.
What happens if one of my ears looses its new shape after the surgery?
Following prominent ear correction, if one of the sutures loosens (either spontaneously or after being subjected to force) then the procedure can be redone. It will be necessary to wait for a few months for the swelling from the first operation to settle down prior to redoing the operation, but the beauty of the suture technique is that the ear cartilage has not been damaged and therefore the sutures can be easily replaced.