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Protruding ears can be the cause of ridicule and alienation for both children and adults. They can also cause shame and feelings of inferiority for children and can cause considerable psychological stress.
Protruding ears, the most common malformation of the ears, are caused by a congenital malformation of the ear cartilage or by an uneven development of individual cartilage parts.
With an operation, the ear cartilage can be reshaped. This procedure can be performed at any age. The initial school years are very impacting for children, so, for psychological reasons, an operative correction should be carried out before starting school.
What actually happens during the surgery?
Since the main fold of the auricle, the so-called anthelix, is usually either too weak or missing completely in the protruding ears, the ear cartilage has to be reshaped and fixed in this new form. In our preferred technique, the auricular cartilage is exposed and thinned out from a concealed incision behind the ear until the desired shape of the cartilage can be achieved. Then it is fixed with fine sutures. The skin is then closed with a continuous suture.
Type of anaesthesia and hospital stay
The operation can be performed on adults and schoolchildren under local anaesthesia. However, if you prefer a general anaesthetic for yourself or your child, this is of course possible. The procedure is performed for children and adults on an outpatient or short inpatient basis. You come and go on the day of the operation or take your child home again in the evening. If you wish, you can also leave the clinic the day after the operation.
How do I prepare for the surgery?
You do not need to prepare for the surgery. However, it is a good idea to get a wide, soft headband that you can wear over your ears after the operation. In addition, you should not take any painkillers containing acetylsalicylic acid, such as Aspirin, 10 days before the operation.
How’s the surgery done?
Local anaesthesia requires a small, hardly painful puncture behind the earlobe. In addition, the skin in the auricle is anaesthetised. The skin incision and the sutures cannot be felt. After shaping and fixing the ear cartilage with permanent sutures, the skin wound is closed. If the ears protrude on both sides, first one side is finished, then the other. The procedure takes about 120 minutes. After the operation, both ears are fixed with a turban bandage.
What happens after the surgery?
Immediately after the operation only slight pain can be expected. The bandage is removed for the first time after 8 – 10 days. When removing the bandage, you must assume bluish discoloration and a certain swelling. Both will disappear within a few days. The skin threads are removed after 10 days in the practice. When sleeping and lying down, a soft headband should constantly be worn for the first three weeks so that the auricle does not bend. In addition, the ears are still slightly swollen and sensitive to touch. Physical exertion should be avoided for about 2 weeks, exposure to strong sunlight or cold for 6 – 8 weeks. The final result is usually achieved after 2 – 3 months.
What complications can arise?
Despite the greatest care, complications may occasionally occur during or after the procedure. If you experience severe pain after the operation, this may indicate an excessively tight bandage, wound infection or bruising. This must then be checked by the doctor. A haematoma can be punctured in most cases and only in exceptional cases requires another operation. A temporary disturbance of the touch sensation is normal and disappears by itself after some time. Very rarely a scar proliferation develops with appropriate predisposition. The cosmetic results after a correction of the auricle are usually very good, but no two ears are the same and so even after an ear correction there are occasionally slight asymmetries.