Prominent ears are ears that stick out from the face. They draw unwanted attention and negative social scrutiny. Prominent ears also contribute to a perception of a lack of sophistication and the reduced level of intelligence. Prominent ears are generally noted when one is a child. And this condition can be treated surgically starting at the age of five. However many children do not undergo correction of prominent ears and this can result in significant negative social consequences and shyness. These experiences may persist into adulthood leading to less confidence and decreased satisfaction with social interactions. It is not infrequent that an adult who has managed with prominent ears from childhood and into adulthood ultimately decides to undergo correction of this anomaly.
At its heart, the problem of prominent ears is one of cartilage excess, cartilage shaped abnormality, and cartilage malposition. The cartilage excess exists in the central bowl-like structure known as the concha. The cartilage shape abnormalities are mostly confined to the folded structures known as the antihelical fold. Finally, the two preceding entities (excess and abnormal shape) contribute to cartilage position abnormalities where by the helical rim, the concha, and the lobule all project outward from the side of the head more than then the normal dimensions, thus resulting in noticeable prominence.
Ear Surgery – Otoplasty
Pinning back the ears is known as an otoplasty in scientific terms. Otoplasty is performed to reposition and reshape the ears so that they’re less prominent. There are many techniques utilized to accomplish satisfactory repositioning of the ears. In general, I like to simplify my explanation to patients by saying that the front part of the ear is weakened precisely and the back part of the ear is reciprocally strengthened so that the ear bends backwards in a guided manner so as to come to rest closer to the head.
The procedure is far more complex than that description. It involves placing little scratches on the front surface of the ear cartilage through a posterior incision. This promotes precise backward bending and folding of the cartilage. In addition, sutures are made on the back surface of the ear to carefully fixate the cartilage into the new desired position. Sometimes, when patients have excessive cartilage, usually confined to the concha, a small amount of it and even some skin needs to be removed. Scars on the ear are almost always confined to the back of the ear and thus are difficult to notice. In the rare occasions that incisions are required on the front of the ear, the resulting scars are difficult to see because the skin is very thin and because they are hidden in the shadows of the ear’s contours.
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