Surgery to reshape the ears involves remodelling the cartilage into a less protruding shape.
The two main techniques for correcting protruding ears which are both available at Kingsbridge Private Hospital:
- ear splinting – this involves resetting the soft cartilage and using a splint to keep the ear in the new position; it's used to treat babies under six months old
- otoplasty or pinnaplasty (pinning back the ears) – where the cartilage is remodelled to create the missing folds and position the ear closer to the head
Why is ear reshaping used?
About 1-2% of people in Ireland think their ears protrude out too much. Having protruding ears does not usually affect a person’s hearing, but can sometimes cause embarrassment and psychological distress.
The ears are one of the first parts of the body to develop to full adult size, so if they protrude they can be particularly noticeable in children and may lead to teasing or bullying.
Adults with protruding ears can have practical problems. For example, they may find it difficult to wear certain items of headgear, such as a motorbike helmet. Women with protruding ears may also feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about wearing their hair up.
Protruding ears can be a characteristic that runs in families, but this is not always the case.
The outer ear is designed to stick out from the side of the head at an angle of about 20 to 35 degrees. However, in a small number of people, the angle is more than 35 degrees, resulting in protruding ears.
Protruding ears can happen if there is too much cartilage, or if the ridge of cartilage at the top of the ear does not fold properly as it develops. They can also be the result of an injury to the ears.
At Kingsbridge Private Hospital your consultant will advise you on the best course of treatment as well as answer any questions or concerns you have about the procedure.