We all have individually shaped external ears that are slightly different. Prominent or Protruding ears are common and are of no functional consequence. Just like any other particular physical feature, they may be considered attractive, so there is no need to have this feature corrected unless you dislike the appearance.
The protruding appearance can be caused by several factors, the two most common ones are either a deeply shaped cartilage in the centre of your ear (the conchal bowl) and/or the absence of a fold along the superior and middle aspect of your ear (the anti-helical fold).
Alternatives to Surgery
If you are considering this for a child younger than 18 months of age, surgical correction is not advised. Instead, splinting your baby’s ear in the first instance will help avoid surgery in the future (whilst the ear cartilage is still malleable enough to be moulded). The earlier you start splinting, the better and faster the result (as the ear cartilage hardens with age). There are several devices available on the market with an abundance of information online to treat your baby at home. Occasionally some parents feel the need for guidance on which particular one is best for their baby and find the reassurance of a consultation to be useful.
The procedure aims to address the cause(s) by making an incision in the posterior ear fold to expose the ear cartilage. If the creation of a new fold in the cartilage is required, then the cartilage is bent back onto itself along the position of the new fold and held in place with sutures. If the conchal bowl is deep, then this is addressed by either using sutures to set the ear back or removing a thin wedge of cartilage- depending on the individual case (the extent of protrusion and the softness of the cartilage). A tailored plan using a combination of these techniques, will be offered to you depending on the individual shape of your ear and the softness of the ear cartilage.
The procedure can be done under local or general anaesthesia and takes about 45 minutes per side. You will be allowed home the same day.
You may notice some swelling for a few weeks. In the first 6 weeks, the new ear position will only be held in place with sutures, until enough scar tissue forms to support this. Consequently, it is advised to use a supportive head band at night for the first 6 weeks, and to avoid contact sports during this period.
RISKS AND POTENTIAL COMPLICATIONS
These will be discussed with you during your consultation, including the risks that may be specific to you if you have a significant medical history.
It is important to take your time and consider them carefully. You will have the opportunity to return for a second consultation to discuss them further, as well as any other queries you may have.
- Problematic scarring
- Recurrence (this is usually after contact sport or trauma soon after the surgery)
You can find more information at the BAPRAS website.