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Prominent ear correction (or otoplasty) 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 antehelical 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.
Local or general
Day case or overnight
It can take 6 months to see the best results of your otoplasty when all the swelling will have subsided.
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 antehelical fold is marked out on the cartilage and permanent sutures are placed on the posterior surface of the ear cartilage to mould 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 sweatband (think tennis sweatband) 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 five 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 your ears for two 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 eight 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 loses 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.
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Before & Afters
What is the recovery like after ear correction surgery?
Otoplasty, or ear correction surgery, is a cosmetic surgery procedure used to correct misshapen or protruding ears. It can yield fantastic results, and compared to other surgical procedures, has a relatively short recovery time.
That being said, there are a few aftercare instructions that patients will need to follow. Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about the recovery process after ear correction surgery, along with a few tips to speed up recovery and help maximise results.
How long does it take to recover from ear correction surgery?
The recovery time after ear correction surgery will vary between patients. However, as a general guideline, the majority of patients can expect a recovery period of up to six weeks.
The results of the procedure will largely start to noticeable after two or three weeks, providing adequate aftercare is provided. A bandage will need to be worn for around a week following the surgery to protect the ears and aid in the recovery process. As the bandage will be placed around the ears, you won’t be able to drive as it will impair your hearing.
You should be able to return to work (or school for younger patients), after around ten days.
What side effects can you expect to experience after an otoplasty?
Like any cosmetic procedure, ear correction surgery does present some risks and complications. Even if the procedure has gone perfectly, patients will still likely experience some side effects from the surgery.
The most common side effects of ear correction surgery include:
- Localised pain and swelling
- Trouble sleeping
- Nausea and vomiting
Localised pain and swelling are to be expected, especially for the first few days following the procedure. However, after day three, this will start to slowly subside. The pain should have disappeared completely after a week, though swelling can last for three months or more. It will reduce and become less noticeable over this three-month period, although actual timings will depend upon many factors.
For the first week or two following the procedure, you may experience trouble sleeping. This is down to the swelling, pain, and the fact you’ll need to wear a headband at night for around six weeks. Pain medication can help to ease the recovery process and sleeping on your back with your head slightly elevated will help make sleeping more comfortable.
Nausea and vomiting can also occur, particularly if you eat too quickly following the surgery. It’s best to stick to a cool, light and soft diet, avoiding hot drinks for a few days. You may vomit once or twice, but if it is persistent, it’s best to call your surgeon for advice.
Ear correction surgery is carried out to improve the cosmetic appearance and the function of the ears. It is usually carried out under general anaesthetic, although some procedures may be able to be done under local anaesthetic. Incisions are made behind the ears, before the surgeon removes or reshapes the cartilage. It typically takes around two hours to perform.
Overall, ear correction surgery is a very common and straightforward procedure which can drastically improve a patient’s life.
Anthony can use a number of different techniques to reduce the shape, size and projection of the ears, so a consultation is required to determine the best approach for each individual patient.