What Is Reconstructive Ear Surgery?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2019
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Reconstructive ear surgery is a procedure performed by a specialist in plastic surgery. This procedure is not typically performed to enhance the appearance of the ears. Instead, reconstructive ear surgery is used to correct a deformity, often due to a birth defect. Some patients may require reconstructive ear surgery to reshape the form of an ear that has been badly damaged, due to burns or mutilation, so full function may be restored. In some cases, reconstructive ear surgery may correct the damage of a previous unsuccessful operation.

Patients undergo reconstructive ear surgery for various reasons. Accident victims who suffer tears to the outer ear or ear lobe may require plastic surgery to reconstruct the cartilage. Young children born with deformed ears or ears that distend outward may need corrective surgery to minimize the protrusion. Children who undergo reconstructive ear surgery will typically be treated by a pediatric plastic surgeon.

The procedure for reconstructive ear surgery may be complex or simple, depending upon the flaw or deformity. If the surgery is an intricate procedure, the patient will be given general anesthesia intravenously by an anesthesiologist. The patient will be unable to feel pain during the surgery, as he will be asleep during the procedure. As a precaution, the patient may be required to stay in the hospital overnight or for a day or two to recover.


If the reconstructive ear surgery is less complex and relatively basic, the procedure may be performed on an outpatient basis. For a simple procedure, he may be given local anesthesia and be fully awake during the operation. The patient will be released within an hour or two after surgery and allowed to recover at home. Depending upon the nature of the reconstructive ear surgery, sutures may be required to close the incision, and will dissolve over the course of several days.

After reconstructive surgery of the ear, there may be mild to moderate pain. As part of follow up care, the plastic surgeon may prescribe pain medication. As with any surgical procedure, there is a risk for complications, such as post-operative infection. Symptoms of infection are swelling, redness and pain near the incision, or unusual drainage from the ear. Severe pain in or around the ear is not considered normal and could indicate infection. Discharge or pus, as well as excessive bleeding should be reported to the physician at once.


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