If there is unexpected pain or discomfort it may be necessary to have the dressings removed and the ear reviewed by a nurse or the surgeon. It is useful to sleep upright the night following the surgery. The bandages should not be interfered with. The head bandage is left on for 7 to 10 days following surgery. On removal of the head bandage the stitches are removed and the ears are cleaned.
You will feel more comfortable once the stitches are removed. Examination is performed to make sure there is no collection of blood between the skin and the cartilage. Rough games should be avoided for up to two months following surgery. A 'sweat band' at night-time is useful for up to three weeks following surgery.
When the head bandage is removed, there is often bruising and swelling of the ears. This can occasionally continue to make them look as if they are still sticking out. The swelling and bruising does take some weeks to finally resolve. There may occasionally be some bruising and scabbing over the skin on the front part of the ear. This will heal by itself. Complications are unusual. There can be a collection of blood between the skin and the cartilage, giving rise to a 'cauliflower type' ear. This can be treated surgically. The skin on the front of the ear is very thin and occasionally after surgery it may be bruised. On rare occasions the skin can become scabbed and one needs to be particularly careful, with regular reviews of dressings, to make sure that the underlying cartilage does not become exposed and dry out.
If the cartilage dries out, it can lead to a misshapen ear. The ears may be red and sensitive after the surgery and take some time to settle. The scar behind the ear can sometimes become red and raised, exceeding the height of the normal surrounding skin. While the stitches heal, you may feel that your ears are pulling or are tight, but this usually goes away. Other rarer complications include infection, a reaction to the anaesthetic and numbness. It is often difficult to make both ears absolutely symmetrical and there are often minor irregularities on the skin surface. Less than 1 in 10 patients require any surgical re-correction.
Once you've had ear surgery, the results are permanent - although because ear cartilage is very elastic, there is always some forward movement of the ears after the operation.
Skin is removed from behind the ear and underlying cartilage is reconstructed
The opening in the ear is pulled together to reform the ear