Prominent Ear Deformity and Surgery
Prominent ear deformity is defined as having a wide angle between the anterior side of the ear and the head. Prominent ear deformity occurs as a result of outgrowth of the spoon-shaped cartilage structure called “concha”, which is located in the center of the ear, and/or lack of formation of the folds that should normally be formed in the ear auricula, thereby the ear being completely flap as if it has been ironed out. This deformity is generally two-sided whereas it may also be occasionally one-sided.
How can prominent ear deformities be corrected?
Prominent ear deformity may cause a significant problem in terms of the mental health, friendships and academic success of a child. The classmates may make fun of the child due to this appearance of his/her ears.
When can it be corrected?
It is possible to correct the prominent ear deformity in the pre-school period since the ears would be fully developed at the age of 6 years. It is undoubtedly possible to correct a flap ear deformity, which was not corrected in childhood, at later stages of life, as well.
What is the chosen type of anesthesia?
Prominent ear deformity correction surgery may be performed under local or general anesthesia depending on the patient's age. The surgery takes approximately 2 hours. Since young children are unable to tolerate local anesthesia, it is necessary to perform surgery under general anesthesia. This surgery can be performed under local anesthesia as of nearly 12-14 years of age.
What are the surgical steps?
The surgical steps can be summed up as follows: removal of skin from the back side of the ear, intervening on its current shape and re-shaping it by folding it backwards, removing a crescent-shaped piece from the cartilage structure called concha and downsizing the cartilage, followed by end-to-end repair of the skin on the back side of the ear. After surgery, the ears are covered using wide dressings. The patient is discharged on the night of the same day or the next morning.
What does the recovery period look like?
After the dressings are removed 4-5 days later, the patient is made to wear a headband, which is similar to those used by athletes. This headband is worn for approximately 4 weeks: it is worn day-and-night for 15 days and only at nights for 15 days. The patient can go back to school or work within 5-6 days. If necessary, the teacher may be asked to be cautious about the child's activities for one week.
Since the surgical scar is behind the ear, it doesn't pose a problem. For advanced cases, a smaller incision inside the ear may also be added on the front side of the ear. The marks disappear in time.
Are there potential problems for me?
Flap ear deformity correction is a highly safe surgery. On rare occasions, very small blood clots may be seen. These are generally taken under control easily. Sometimes, the sutures placed inside the ear may result in pimple-like breakouts on the back side of the ear a few months after surgery. The sutures that caused these breakouts may be safely removed after waiting for a few months more. Since the cartilages are now fixed in place with their own hardening process and strength of the surrounding connective tissues, no deformations are observed. As the sutures placed on the back side of the ear are absorbed, it is not necessary to remove the sutures after surgery.