What is Pinnaplasty (Otoplasty) surgery?
The operation to correct prominent ears is called Pinnaplasty.
In the new born ‘bat ears’ may be corrected by gentle taping of the ears to the side of the head or the wearing of a ‘cradle cap’. If the problem remains uncorrected after infancy, correction may only be achieved by operation. As the ears continue to grow until the age of seven, the operation may not be considered until then but usually it is best carried out when the child understands and is able to cooperate with the dressings. The minimum age for pinnaplasty surgery is usually around the age of 5 years.
In adults, a request for prominent ear correction is also common and involves a similar operation.
When meeting your surgeon, he will ask for a general medical history and details of any previous ear surgery. Ear asymmetry is usual and will be pointed out at your consultation. The surgeon will naturally aim for absolute symmetry although this cannot be guaranteed.
What happens during the operation?
Pinnaplasty can be carried out under local anaesthetic or general anaesthetic. However, general anaesthetic is most suitable for children. The procedure is carried out as a day case.
The incisions are placed behind the ear. The cartilage of the ear is remodelled and sutures are used to permanently reposition the ear. Very occasionally part of the cartilage may need to be reduced in size to obtain an adequate position of the ear. A head dressing is used to allow the ears to heal in their new position.
What is the recovery?
Discomfort from pinnaplasty surgery is mild and easily controlled with mild analgesics which will be prescribed. Aspirin or aspirin like medication (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory tablets) must not be taken.
You will need to sleep upright for a few nights and it is important not to stoop or carry out vigorous activities for a few says, otherwise postoperative bleeding could result.
The head dressing must remain in place for one week after which it is removed and the skin stitches are removed at the same time. There may still be some bruising and swelling on removal of the dressings but this will settle rapidly, within a week or two, and the improvement in the prominence of the ears will be apparent.
After removal of the head dressing it is advisable to wear a sports headband at night time for 6 weeks.
What is are the risks?
As with other operations, infection and bleeding are potential but uncommon risks. Infection is treated with antibiotics. Occasionally, a small blood vessel leaks postoperatively causing bleeding in the first hours after surgery. This would cause pain and perhaps stained dressings. A return to the operating theatre would be essential but fortunately, this situation is also rare.
Numbness is fairly common in pinnaplasty surgery, but the ears will eventually return to normal.
In addition some prominent ears, especially if very severe and large, may be more difficult to correct. Very occasionally a recurrence of the prominent ear may occur after surgery. In these cases, a complete correction might need a secondary revision procedure.
Mr Chana will provide you with a comprehensive Pinnaplasty information leaflet following consultation.