Ears do more than gather sounds - they frame our face. And like any frame it is meant to complement what's with in it. When positioned naturally, ears tend to go unnoticed except to garner attention by the jewelry adorning them or the glasses they support. But, when they are out of sync with the rest of facial balance, problems begin.
Prominent ears are by far the most common and emotionally damaging problem to the pre teen population. They have been cruelly called "Dumbo" ears, "Mickey Mouse" ears, and "floppy ears". These are just some of the emotionally damaging euphemisms for ears that protrude beyond the normal average.
There are those who will remark that ears like these are "cute" and hope that the child "will grow into them". Others believe that by taping the ears to the head they can be reshaped. All not true!
The truth is that children with prominent ears can be placed under great psychological stress, mostly by the torment of their peers, who take delight in ridicule. This uncanny ability of so called playmates to pick out an abnormal feature and use it for amusement begins at school age. Fortunately this period between 5 and 7 years is when the ear has reached full growth and is ideal for surgical correction.
Correction of prominent ears is a straightforward procedure when performed by those with experience. It is remarkably painless and can be done as an out patient, with either general or local anesthesia with some sedation (depending on the child's age and level of cooperation).
Most often, the incision is placed behind the ear, and heals with an inconspicuous scar. From this vantage point the cartilage is reshaped to normalize the ear contours.
The child wears a fluffy bandage for a week, and then trades it for a head band worn over the ears for another 2-3 weeks during the healing process.
School can be resumed after 1 week and sports after 1 month.
Like any surgical procedure, there can be complications. Fortunately they are few and can be easily remedied. These include bleeding and infections as well as the possibility of stitches breaking and the ear popping out again. The latter would require a small procedure to restore the shape.
It is best to look into correction for prominent ears at an early age. Otherwise the angst can be prolonged and psychologically damaging.
Damaged Lobes and Ears from Piercings
In some societies it is accepted to have stretched out ear lobes - not ours. The double edged sword is that kids today want to have many holes placed into their ears - and not just the lobes.
The more holes, the weaker the tissue becomes. The heavier the earring, the more likely the risk of stretching, and the larger the earring, the greater risk of tearing. Piercings through the cartilage increase the risk of infection (cartilage has a poor blood supply) and the healing can be problematic.
Repair of torn earlobes is an easy and straightforward procedure. Closure of the holes through cartilage us much more difficult. Think twice before acting once.
The Cauliflower Ear
Repeated trauma to the ear, as often occurs in contact sports like wrestling, can damage the cartilage of the ear and result in a significant deformity by losing much of its normal architecture. The can be avoided by encouraging athletes to wear protective head gear. For many athletes, injuries sustained on the "fields of battle" are "badges of courage". What is forgotten, only to be realized after the glory days are over is that they have a difficult problem to correct.
Reconstruction of the microtic ear is a challenge that demands artistic creativity and strict attention to the principles of tissue transplantation. The process involves the use of autogenous rib cartilages sculpted into an auricular framework and placed beneath the ear skin. Other stages include reconstruction of the earlobe, tragus, and auriculocephalic sulcus to closely replicate the normal ear.
back to top