What are the consequences?
A small protective dressing is usually worn ,after the surgery for approximately seven days. A protective head-band or bandage needs to be worn at night to avoid the ears being bent forward against the pillow.
The ears are often sore and tender for a few weeks and painkilling medication is paracetamol or Codeine may be required.
After the Operation
The hair can be washed after the dressings have been removed. It is important to keep the grooves behind the ears clean.
The operation is most often done during childhood, but it is best to operate when the patient is 6 years old or more. Children are generally more co-operative and happy with the outcome when they fully understand why the surgery is taking place. Pinnaplasty is also performed during the teenage years and in adult life.
What are the risks?
In a small number of patients (approximately 3%) the scars can become thick and red, and may require further treatment. Infection is not common, but should this occur it would require treatment with antibiotics and regular dressing changes. The dressing can chafe the ears so produce a break in the skin which can take a long time to heal. There is a small risk that the repair may not hold properly, and further adjustment surgery is occasionally required. The ears are often a little numb after the procedure, and this usually takes several weeks to settle.
What can be done?
When an ear is noted to be prominent within the first few weeks of life, it is possible to reshape it by applying a small splint to the rim. The cartilage or gristle of a newborn's ear is very floppy and easily remoulded and after several weeks of splintage a permanent correction can be achieved. This treatment can only be used until six months of age.In older children and adults a surgical solution or is required.
Pinnaplasty or Otoplasty is an operation which adjusts the shape of the cartilage within the ear to create the missing folds and to allow the ear to lie closer to the side of the head. Because the operation is carried out from behind the ears, a small scar is left close to the groove between the ear and the side' of the head. The procedure can be carried out under a local anaesthetic, but in young children a general anaesthetic is usually required.
The scar behind the ear usually settles well, but on rare occasions it can become red and lumpy. A small number of patients, particularly those who are very sensitive about the precise shape of their ears, may require a minor adjustment procedure. The vast majority of patients, however, are well pleased by the result, and the procedure has a high satisfaction rate.