Mr Neil Toft

Consultant Plastic Surgeon

BSc MBChB MD FRCS (Plast)

 

0845 094 5657

 

 

PINNAPLASTY INFORMATION

General Background

When ears stick out from the side of the head beyond the normal amount, they are known as prominent ears. They are often unkindly known as "bat ears". The exact cause is unknown but often they can run in families. Many children get teased at school and are unhappy. Adults with prominent ears may wish to change the shape of their ears as they are very conscious of their appearance. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to correct prominent ears by surgery, and this operation is known as "Pinnaplasty". Patients from the age of 5years old onwards can have the operation.


Before the operation

There is nothing special or complicated to be done by the patient. It would be advisable to stop any herbal medicines and avoid aspirin or ibuprofen-like drugs for 2 weeks before and after the operation.


The operation itself

Patients normally come into the hospital on the morning of surgery. Children require a short general anaesthetic for the procedure. Adults can choose either local anaesthetic (ie awake) or general anaesthetic. After a small incision hidden behind the ear, the cartilage or gristle is re-shaped and folded back using special stitches. This creates a more natural ear shape and sets the ears back in addition. The wound is then closed with dissolving stitches. A head bandage is applied.


Post-operative follow-up and after care

The head bandage is required to be worn for one week day and night. At 7 days you will be seen in the clinic and the bandage removed. After the head bandage comes off at a week, and the ears checked, a head band (like Bjorn Borg) needs to be worn but only at night for a month to protect the ears whilst asleep. It is important to rest and take it very easy for at least 2 weeks after the operation and it is essential to avoid all strenuous activity during this period. You wound be advised to take 7 days off work with the head bandage and allow the swelling and bruising to settle. Vigorous sport such as jogging or the gym should be avoided for 4 weeks. A check-up clinic appointment at 3 months after the surgery will be arranged for you.


Complications

These are unusual in pinnaplasty. Sometimes the scar at the back of the ear can be lumpy but this normally settles down by itself. The ears are often bruised for 7 to 10 days. Bleeding and infection are very unusual as patients are prescribed antibiotics for one week after the operation. It is advisable to avoid all contact sport for 2 months as there is a theoretical risk of the sutures snapping and the ear shape reverting to a pre-operative state. After 2 months the ears are sufficiently "set" so that there is not a problem with sport in the future. Many patients notice that in cold weather that the ears go cold and numb. This is very normal and settles down spontaneously in time. Great care is taken to achieve perfect symmetry between the two sides at the time of surgery. However, no two ears are perfectly symmetrical in patients with normal shaped ears, and there may be some degree of very minor difference between the two sides after the operation.


Summary

Correction of prominent ears is a very straightforward, safe procedure with excellent results. Many patients are very satisfied with the results.


Operation Time 1 - 2 hours
Anaesthetic General or Local
Nights in hospital 0 or 1
Time off work 7 days
Return to normality/exercise 4 weeks