Protruding or exceptionally large ears can make a person feel insecure or embarrassed about his or her appearance.

In most people, the ear cartilage folds as it develops, and this allows the ear to rest relatively close to the scalp. When this fold does not form (or does not fully form), the ears protrude away from the scalp, creating prominent ears. The condition may affect one or both ears. By age six, the ear has reached approximately 85% of its adult size; therefore, any time after the age of six is an appropriate time for Otoplasty surgery to correct any abnormalities.

Otoplasty is a straightforward surgery performed under ‘twilight anaesthetic’. An incision is made on the posterior (rear) surface of the ear in the crease between the ear and the head (which will be hidden following the surgery), and permanent sutures are placed in the cartilage to produce a natural-looking fold. The ear cartilage may also be anchored closer to the head with permanent sutures, and in a few patients some cartilage may be removed.

Otoplasty in Detail

Patient Journey

Pre-Operation

  • Consultation with Dr Georgina Konrat to examine the details of the problem and to plan its correction. She will take a complete medical history and conduct a thorough examination in order to evaluate your general health. Dr Konrat will describe the procedure and answer any questions you may have.
  • You should avoid Asprin, Nsaid, Brufen, Vitamin E Capsules and any Anti-Inflammatory medication for two weeks before and after your procedure.
  • Avoid alcohol for two weeks before and after your procedure.
  • You must stop smoking two weeks before and a month after your procedure. Smoking decreases the blood flow to the skin and can delay healing.
  • You will need to make arrangements for someone to accompany you home and care for you as the sedation during the procedure may made you drowsy for up to 24 hours.
  • You must notify Dr Konrat if you have any medical problems or allergies to any tablets, drugs, dressings or any medication.
  • Photographs and measurements are taken before and after surgery in order to evaluate the final results.

The Operation

  • The operation is performed as day surgery in the minor operations room at Brisbane Cosmetic Clinic under sedation with long-acting local anaesthetic, (similar to “twilight” anaesthetic).
  • In most cases, even when only one ear appears to protrude or ‘stick-out’, both ears are usually operated on to ensure a more balanced appearance post-operatively. An incision is made in the natural crease hidden behind the ear.
  • Permanent sutures are placed in the cartilage to produce a natural-appearing fold.
  • The ear cartilage may also be anchored closer to the head with permanent sutures. In a few patients, some cartilage may be removed.

Post-Operation

  • This is an outpatient procedure, which means you go home on the same day. You must organise for someone to drive you home and to stay with you for the first 24 hours after surgery. You will not be discharged from the hospital unless there is someone to pick you up, and you should not take public transport.
  • You will wear a protective head dressing for one week after the operation.
  • The permanent sutures used in Otoplasty are designed to remain in the body indefinitely to maintain the new, more natural position of the ear.  Any sutures requiring removal are removed in about a week and any dissolvable sutures will have dissolved by this stage.  Adult patients usually return to work about five days after surgery.
  • You should expect mild pain, which can be controlled with prescription oral pain medication. After about three days, you will probably no longer require prescription pain medication. However, at night it is recommended to take one Panadol tablet (500mg) to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep during the first week following surgery.
  • It is also recommended to wear a wide headband, the head garment, or a beanie to bed at night to prevent the ears folding forwards whilst turning over during sleep at night.
  • You must not participate in sports where your ears might be bumped, bruised or pulled for 6 weeks following Otoplasty surgery.

Possible Risks & Complications

RISKS SPECIFIC TO OTOPLASTY SURGERY

Overcorrection:

  • this places the ears too close to the head and may require a revision surgery.

Keloid/Hypertrophic scar formation:

  • a thick scar that grows larger than is expected

Infection:

  • It is important to take the prescribed antibiotics following the surgery to prevent infection.

Bruising, Bleeding & haematoma:

  • Localised swelling due to an accumulation of blood in the cartilage of the ear. The risk of hematoma from Otoplasty is considered small, but early contact with your treating Doctor will decrease risks of deformity as a result.

Asymmetry:

  • No surgery can predict perfect symmetry and indeed no person is perfectly symmetrical, but the improvement in proportion and shape makes most patients, young and old, delighted with the results.
  • Loosening of the sutures, which can cause the ear to return to its original position.

General Risks of Surgery

Because surgery is such a vital part of modern medicine, there is a tendency to forget that there are risks associated with every type of surgery. While these risks are small, every person undergoing surgery should be aware of the risks.

Wounds

All internal and external wounds need time to heal after surgery. Sutures, stitches and other material are used to hold wounds closed while they heal.

Infections

Despite taking precautions, infections can occur during and just after surgery. Because of their generally good health, Otoplasty patients usually have a much lower risk of developing general infections such as pneumonia.

DVT (Deep Venous Thrombosis)

Patients have a risk of forming a blood clot in the leg (deep vein thrombosis) that, on rare occasions, may break off and get stuck in the lung circulation (pulmonary embolism). This is minimised by early mobilisation after the surgery. You will also be encouraged to breathe deeply when you wake up from the anaesthetic as this expands your lungs and helps ensure your blood oxygen levels are good.

Risks of Anaesthesia

Because this surgery is performed under local anaesthetic with sedation, it carries the lowest level of risk:

Local Anaesthetic:

  • Rarely a person may have an allergic reaction to the local anaesthetic, or experience a rapid heartbeat due to the adrenaline that is used to reduce bleeding.
  • It is important that all patients seeking to undergo elective surgery have realistic expectations that focus on improvement rather than perfection.
  • Complications or less than satisfactory results are sometimes unavoidable, may require additional surgery and can be stressful.
  • Please discuss openly with Dr Konrat in your consultation prior to surgery, any history of emotional depression or mental health disorders. If you are unsure whether a matter is relevant, please mention it anyway. Although many individuals may benefit psychologically from the results of elective cosmetic surgery, the effects on mental health can never be predicted and could possibly have a negative influence on emotional stability.

Please note that this information should be used only as a guide to your treatment. All specifics will be discussed with Dr Konrat during your initial consultation.