The correction of protruding ears, also known as otoplasty or ear pinning surgery, is a simple plastic surgery procedure that has a dramatic visual effect and an equally significant improvement in one's self-image. By repositioning the cartilage of the ear with sutures through an incision on the back of the ear, the angle of the ear as it protrudes from the side of the head can be altered to a more favorable setback position. The effect is instantaneous, both on the operative table as well as when the ear dressings come off. Here are my after surgery instructions that I provide to my otoplasty patients.
1. A circumferential head dressing will be placed on at the end of the surgery to protect the ears in their new position. In adults and teenagers, this dressing can be removed the next day. In children, the head dressing will stay in place for 1 week. (if they can stand it for that long!)
2. Dissolvable sutures are used behind the ears so suture removal is not necessary.
3. Once the head dressing is removed, the ears still need to be protected. In children, a 'ski band' or head band is to be worn as much as possible for the next 2 weeks. In adults, this form of protection should be worn only at night for several weeks after surgery. If one should accidentally twist an ear or roll over on it during the night, it is possible to loosen or break the sutures with the ear returning to its appearance prior to surgery.
4. Eyeglasses should not be worn for the first week after surgery so they do not rub on the incisions behind the ears.
5. The ears will remain somewhat swollen for up to a month after surgery. Be patient before judging the final result as it takes time for the ears to settle and be less sensitive to the touch.
6. Swimming and other underwater activities should be avoided for two weeks after the surgery.
7. Sports activities that pose a risk for direct ear trauma (e.g., basketball) should be avoided for one month after surgery.
8. Make sure to take and complete your antibiotic prescription. While ear infections are rare, should they occur around cartilage (known as chondritis), they can pose a big problem. Cartilage infections are difficult to eliminate.
9. The need for pain medication is usually quite short-lived in otoplasty surgery. The ears are sore but not acutely painful.
10. The sutures used to reshape the cartilage are permanent. It is uncommon, but possible, for these sutures years later to extrude on the back of the ear. This usually appears as a white knot which is easily removed in the office.