Big ears • Ear correction for children & adults

Anyone who suffers from “bug ears” often finds this annoying. Children with protruding ears in particular are often subject to teasing. With an ear correction you can have your ears put on – the operation is one of the most common cosmetic procedures. What you should know about it.

Protruding ears (otapostasis) result from a congenital deformation of the ear cartilage or from an asymmetrical development of cartilage elements. This phenomenon can be changed by applying ears, i.e. an ear correction (otoplasty or otopexy). In the medical sense, ears protrude when the angle between the back of the head and the pinna is more than 30 degrees. There are no hearing impairments as a result.

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Reasons: Why have ears pinched?

Whether or not cosmetic surgery is required to flatten the ears must be decided on a case-by-case basis. Medical reasons for an ear correction are rare, mostly they are purely aesthetic factors. However, protruding ears do not automatically represent a blemish to be ashamed of. The small flaws can be quite charming and contribute to a special appearance.

However, there are cases in which those affected suffer greatly from it. Children in particular are often teased because of their “jumpy ears”. In the worst case, this can have a massive impact on mental well-being and lead to serious psychological problems, complexes and feelings of inferiority. Parents should not let the child pinch his ears without his own will, but only if the child himself desires a change. The psychological suffering can also only be so pronounced in adolescence or adulthood that an ear correction is decided upon.

At what age do children start pinching their ears?

If psychological problems are to be feared due to the protruding ears, an ear correction can be carried out shortly before school enrollment at around five years of age. At this age, the growth of the outer ear is complete enough for ears to be laid back. According to the German Society of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, the ideal age for treatment is between four and 14 years. Such an intervention is also possible later in adulthood at any time.

What are the methods of pinching ears?

There are several ways to get your ears pinned. Which procedure is suitable should be clarified in the individual case:

  • Ears by surgery: The classic method of ear correction is surgery. In experienced hands, this is a routine procedure. There are different techniques that a doctor can use and combine. The procedure depends on the cause of the protruding ears: If the inner fold of the auricle (antihelical fold) is not pronounced enough, it is reshaped. If the auricle is too pronounced, excess cartilage is removed. The cartilage structure can be removed by filing, grinding or an incision. The ears can be given a new shape using a sewing technique. The skin incision is usually made on the back of the ear, leaving a small, barely visible scar that will fade over time. In some people, only one ear is affected by the deformity and protrudes. Nevertheless, it can make sense to have both ears operated on in order to achieve an even appearance.

  • Big ears without surgery: In certain cases, an ear correction can also be carried out without an operation – for example through the use of implants in a gentle, minimally invasive method. The implants are intended to correct the faulty folding of the ear. Another option is the thread method. Here, the desired shape is achieved by weaving in special threads – skin incisions are not necessary.

Attaching ears: course and result of the operation

The ear correction should be carried out by qualified medical specialists. The exact procedure depends on the individual case and the method chosen. A classic ear surgery can generally be as follows:

  • preparation: A detailed consultation should take place beforehand, during which the desired result, the prospects of success as well as the risks and complications of the procedure are discussed. As a rule, the ears are also examined in advance for inflammation and hearing. The hair does not need to be trimmed or shaved before the procedure – it is washed with a disinfecting shampoo beforehand. A few days before the operation, special considerations may need to be taken into account when taking blood-thinning medication. If they have to be discontinued, this will be clarified with the general practitioner.

  • Operation: The ear correction is usually performed on an outpatient basis; in certain cases, an inpatient stay is possible. Depending on your age, the procedure is performed under local anesthesia, possibly combined with twilight sleep, or under general anesthesia. In smaller children, the operation is performed under general anesthesia. The duration depends on the effort and is about one to two hours.

  • aftercare: After the operation, patients should follow a few important instructions: Sport (especially with an increased risk of injury), sauna, earrings or helmets must be avoided, and those who wear glasses should wear contact lenses. You also have to be careful when washing your hair. In the first few days after the operation, a well-fitting head bandage (cap bandage) or a tight-fitting headband is worn – initially around the clock, later only at night. This bandage is intended to prevent the ears from buckling. You will be on sick leave for about a week after the operation. If no self-dissolving sutures were used for the suture, these will be removed after a few days. Follow-up appointments should be kept.

  • Discomfort after the operation: The following symptoms may occur after the procedure, but these will subside after a short time: pain in the auricle, bluish discoloration, swelling, sensitivity to touch or feelings of tension. Pain can be treated with painkillers.

  • result: Only when the swelling has gone down after a few weeks will the final result be seen. It is normal for the ear to spring back slightly after the operation and this is due to the elasticity of the cartilage. However, the surgical staff takes this into account anyway. In general, therefore, the result is satisfactory and no further surgery is required. The laid ears last a lifetime. Should it happen that the restoring forces of the cartilage are so strong that deformation occurs again, the procedure can be carried out again without any problems.

Surgery to create ears: What complications can occur?

In general, ear correction is a low-risk treatment. However, as with all surgeries, complications can occur. These include, on rare occasions

  • wound healing disorders,
  • bleeding,
  • wound infections,
  • side effects of anesthesia,
  • excessive scarring as well
  • Loss of feeling, which usually resolves.

Important: If fever, severe pain or postoperative bleeding occur after an operation, medical advice must be obtained.

Costs incurred when creating ears

The costs of an ear correction depend on the effort involved in the individual case and differ depending on the practice. They amount to around 3,000 euros.

You should first find out from your health insurance company whether they will cover the costs: for children up to a specified age, the costs may be covered. In special cases – for example in the case of very high levels of suffering – the costs are also reimbursed in adulthood.

If the operation is carried out at your own expense, it should be clarified beforehand what will happen in the event of complications or follow-up operations. In some cases, the health insurance companies participate under certain conditions. If necessary, it makes sense to take out insurance beforehand that covers such costs.

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Source: Lifeline | Das Gesundheitsportal by

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