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When having a correction of protruding ears?
Principally, protruding ears in children are corrected around the age of 6 years. At this age the ears have reached the adult size. However, even at adult age a protruding ear correction is still possible. For children most health insurance plans cover the costs of the intervention. At adult age this may not be the case. Please ask your insurance company which rules and regulations apply in a particular case. The intervention can be carried out under local anesthesia when the patient is older than 10 years. In the younger age group, general anesthesia is preferred in combination with a one-day setting.
Before the intervention
Please inform your surgeon if you are on medication that alters blood coagulation such as Aspirin (acethylsalicylacid). This use of these medicines needs to be terminated 14 days before the intervention.
Smokers are strongly advised to quit smoking 2 weeks before and continue to do so till at least 4 weeks after the intervention. Persistent smoking may have profound adverse effects on wound healing. If the surgery is done under general anesthesia you have to be sober no later than 12 o'clock at night on the day prior to the surgery.
After anesthesia, the skin behind the ear will be released to expose the ear cartilage. If no cartilage fold is present, this will be created by remodeling of the cartilage, and if the whole cartilage skeleton is protruding it will be bent backwards by means of stitches. Sometimes both of these techniques are applied simultaneously. The skin redundancy, if present, is removed and the wound will be closed tension free.
As soon as both ears are corrected a pressure bandage will be applied to prevent major postoperative bleeding. Moreover it will hold the ears into the desired position and allows the adherence of skin and cartilage. The whole intervention normally takes less than an hour.
What happens after the intervention?
Depending on the kind of anesthesia you may go home immediately or after a few hours. During the first 2-3 days the ears can be extremely painful. The use of paracetamol is advised on a regular basis. If after a few days the pain increases instead of decreases, you should get in contact with your surgeon.
Sometimes a few drops of blood may become visible in the bandage. This is normal. However, if the bandage becomes extensively red of blood, you need to contact your surgeon as this may indicate a more severe bleeding. The bandage has to stay in place during one week. Sports, bending, and straining should be prevented.
After the first week
After the first week the bandage is removed at the consultation. Showering is then allowed. The ears will still be swollen and sometimes bluish colored. These effects will slowly disappear within a few weeks. It may be advisable to wear a headband for three weeks during night to prevent kicking of the corrected ear. After 6 weeks sport activities can be performed again. After the intervention the ears will be insensitive. Sensitivity will slowly recover, however, within 4 to 5 months.
Complications like bleeding and infection rarely occur and are usually seen within the first days after the intervention. In exceptional cases, the scar behind the ear becomes hypertrophied or it may even form a keloid. Initially, a hardening and elevation of the scar will be observed. This hardening may occur up to one year after the intervention. As soon as some hardening is observed it should be treated immediately with cortisone and application of pressure. If a slight preoperative asymmetry is present, it is likely that it is also there to some extent after the operation.