Approximately 1 to 2% of the population in the UK consider their ears to be too prominent, usually because they stick out more than normal. In many cases the shape and lie of the ears is inherited, and a family trend can be seen. The most prominent ears often lack a normal fold, and sometimes one ear is more prominent than the other.
Ear correction surgery or ear pinning – also known as otoplasty or pinnaplasty – aims to restore the ears to a more natural position when they are prominent, or to correct any noticeable difference in the shape of the ears.
Mr Sherif Wilson is an expert plastic surgeon who is able to perform ear correction surgery in Bristol, Bath or Gloucester.
Typical ear pinning patients
Most patients interested in ear correction surgery are self-conscious of their appearance because of their prominent ears. Some patients are children who dislike the size or shape of their ears, whereas others are adults who have a lack of self confidence because of their ears.
Whilst most cases of prominent ears become a problem in early childhood – often relating to teasing at school – Mr Wilson advises that surgery for prominent ears is not undertaken until the child is old enough to understand what the surgery involves. At this stage the child is more likely to be cooperative and happy with the outcome. For this reason, and because ear cartilage is often soft in the early years, operations for prominent ears are rarely performed on children under the age of five.
Before ear correction surgery
Before undertaking ear pinning surgery, you will have a private consultation with Mr Wilson where he will assess the size of shape of your ears and answer any questions you may have. Mr Wilson believes it is very important that every patient is comfortable and understands what will happen during surgery, and therefore the consultation is a very important part of the surgical process.
Ear correction procedure
During a pinnaplasty operation, Mr Wilson will make cuts behind each ear and adjust 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 local anaesthetic, but in young children a general anaesthetic is usually required.
After ear pinning surgery
You will normally be able to return home the same day as ear correction surgery. Naturally, the ears will be sore and tender for a few days following the procedure. A large, bulky protective dressing is usually worn after the surgery until the wound is checked a week after surgery. Once the dressing has been discarded, initially it is wise to wear a protective headband or bandage when sleeping to avoid the ears being bent forward against the pillow.
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 pleased by the result, and the procedure has a high satisfaction rate.
Most patients are able to return to work or school after around one week. You should be able to see the end result of ear correction surgery within six weeks or less.