Plastic surgery of the ear can be done for a variety of cosmetic reasons, but is most commonly done to correct over-protrusion of the ears. Other cosmetic treatments include treating a split ear (from an earring that has pulled through), gage ear deformity (from looped rings that have stretched the ear lobule), and prominent ear lobes. There are also more complex reconstructive techniques to restore the shape of the ear after skin cancer resections, procedures that Dr. McInnes does every week under local anesthetic.
Protruding ears usually result from a combination of overprominent cartilage in the middle of the ear, and an under-curved cartilage on the antihelix of the ear. For protruding ears, the goal of surgery is usually to reposition the ears such that they do not command any attention. Unlike other cosmetic operations, where to goal is often to draw attention to an area (eg. breast augmentation surgery), in ear surgery, to goal is usually to draw attention AWAY from the ear, so people focus on the face. The majority of corrections can be nicely achieved by increasing the curvature of the cartilage with sutures techniques that are placed behind the ear, where nobody can see them. Adjunctive measures may include “scoring” the cartilage, whereby one side of the cartilage is gently abraded. This takes advantage of the tendency for cartilage to bend to the opposite side.
Candidates for ear surgery are:
- Healthy individuals who do not have a life-threatening illness or medical conditions that can impair healing
- Individuals with a positive outlook and specific goals in mind for ear surgery
Where do I begin?
In adults, cosmetic ear surgery is not a benefit of MSP and therefore you may call our office directly. Once you schedule in for your appointment, you will be asked about your surgical goals, your medical history, and a physical examination will be completed. Expectations of surgery and your outcome will be discussed.
I you have a child with protruding ears, please have your family doctor send a referral to our office. If your child has an advanced ear condition, they will need to be seen at the BC Children’s Hospital, possibly in conjunction with an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist to assess their hearing.
Each case of ear surgery is individualized, as is the delicate and highly individual anatomy of the ear. Through an analysis of the ear axis and positioning on the head, ear size, and angle of protrusion, Dr. McInnes will tailor a technique to precisely correct the exact features that are disproportionate. Just as all of our faces are asymmetric to some degree, and the results of ear surgery may not be completely symmetric, although the goal is to create an ear as normal in structure and balanced as possible.
Ear surgery may be performed in an ambulatory surgical facility or a hospital. General anesthesia is recommended in cases involving children, so that your child will sleep comfortably through the procedure. The decision for anesthesia will be based on the requirements of your specific procedure and considerations of the patient and Dr. McInnes.
Following surgery, bandages or dressings will be applied to keep the surgical site clean, protect it from trauma and to support the new position of the ear during initial healing. Dr. McInnes utilizes a specific post-operative garment to help protect the ear while it heals. For adult patients, Dr. McInnes prefers they wear the garment nearly full time for about 10 days. Dr. McInnes will normally see his ear surgery patients 1 week following surgery to check for healing. Patients will be given a handout on how to care for their ear following surgery.
Some discomfort immediately following ear surgery is normal and can be controlled with pain medication. There may be an itchy feeling under the bandages. It is essential that bandages remain intact and are not removed. Failure to do so may result in loss of some of the correction and may require a secondary surgery. A return to light, normal activity is possible the day following surgery, as long as the ears are protected. Children should refrain from rough or aggressive play until healing is complete.
The outcome of surgery to correct protruding ears is present almost immediately. Children accept their improved appearance quite quickly and a positive change in self-esteem can rapidly develop. It may take several months for swelling to completely subside and incision lines to refine and fade. During this time, proper skin care and diligent sun protection are essential. In addition, the ears should be protected from extreme cold or injury.
There are risks associated with your surgery. Risks of surgery will be discussed prior to your consent. It is important to address all your questions directly with Dr. McInnes.