Ear surgery is a long-used technique designed to correct protruding ears or ear deformities in children and adults. Most ear protrusions occur because of abnormalities in the development of the cartilage. In some cases, there is an imbalance in the shape and size of one person's ears or peculiar shaping of the ear. Because ears are fully formed by about the age of four, this procedure is safe for children.
Ear surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis using a local anesthetic and sedation and takes between 2 and 3 hours to complete. A small incision is made in the back of the ear where the ear meets the head. The surgeon then removes excess skin and cartilage and may further sculpt the cartilage to reshape the ear. The cartilage is secured to the head with permanent sutures to keep the ear pinned back. In some cases, the surgeon uses temporary sutures to hold the ear in place while it heals. The incision is closed with sutures.
Following the surgery, the patient's head may be wrapped in heavy dressing to aid in healing. After a few days, this will be replaced with a lighter dressing or headband, which may be required for up to 2 weeks following the surgery. Stitches are removed or will dissolve in about one week. Most patients are back to normal activity within one week, although care must be taken to avoid any activity that might bend the ear for an additional few weeks. A small scar will remain behind the ear, but is usually not visible.