The usual reason that ears are prominent is that they lack a normal ford (ante-helical fold) leaving them prominent. Sometimes the reason is that the hollow of the ear (conchal fossa) is very deep. It may be one ear but more usually both ears. This affects 1-2 % of the population in the United Kingdom and generally runs in families.
Pinnaplasty or otoplasty is an operation which adjusts the shape of the cartilage within the ear to create the missing folds and to allow the ear to lie closer to the side of the head. It may be done under local or general anaesthetic. It usually involves a 1-night stay.
The operation is generally not done until after the age of about 7. This is because we would like the child to be involved in the decision and also because the ears have reached approximately 80% of the adult size and so an operation at this stage is preferable. While is it is most often done on children, it can be done at any age.
The operation involves opening the ear through an incision on the back of the ear. The cartilage inside the ear is reshaped to make a new ante-helical fold. Bruising, swelling and numbness are commonly seen after the operation. A more comprehensive list of the benefits, risks and limitations will be discussed with you at the consultation. A protective head dressing is worn for 7 – 10 days post-procedure. After this time, a wide soft headband is worn for 4 weeks at night to keep the ears in position while sleeping.