Ear reconstruction is the term given to any surgical procedure that treats ear deformities, whether malformed from birth, underdeveloped during life, or caused by trauma. The goal of ear reconstruction is to create an ear shape that looks as natural as possible, restoring balance and symmetry to the face.
The correction of malformed ears can have enormous benefits on self-esteem, confidence, and appearance. You may be a candidate for ear reconstruction if you suffer from microtia (congenital underdeveloped or missing ears) or have sustained injury to the ears through trauma.
Ear reconstruction is commonly performed on children with underdeveloped ears; the procedure can be carried out as early as seven years old, giving the opposite ear adequate time to reach nearly adult size.
Candidates for ear reconstruction should be generally healthy, non-smokers, and not have chronic medical conditions that cause impairment of the healing process.
Ear reconstruction is an individualized process according to each patient’s aesthetic goals. During a consultation at the Plastic Surgery Clinic of Chicago, we walk you through every step of the procedure, review the associated risks, and discuss recovery. We thoroughly review your medical history, including known allergies, current medications, and past surgeries.
There are multiple techniques associated with ear reconstruction, including prosthetics, but the most common approach is autologous ear reconstruction, which is a method that involves crafting a new ear shape out of the patient’s own rib cartilage.
After a general anesthetic is administered, incisions are made in the chest and cartilage from several ribs is carefully removed. The cartilage is then precisely shaped to create an ear framework, which is then surgically inserted beneath the scalp.
This technique usually requires two to three surgeries to complete; after the healing process is complete, subsequent surgeries involve elevating the ear away from the scalp, repositioning the ear lobe, and other necessary adjustments to ensure the appearance is as natural as possible.
A major benefit to the autologous ear reconstruction approach is that it uses the body’s own tissue and cartilage and does not involve any foreign substances. Not only does this decrease the risk of infection, but also the patient does not have to have it replaced and the risk of the body rejecting the reconstructed ear is minimal.
Discomfort and some amount of pain are normal after ear surgery. Patients will be given medication to ensure comfort. Bandages should remain intact until removed by your surgeon, and patients should avoid any contact with the ears as they heal.
Multiple surgeries are usually required for complete ear reconstruction. Patients can expect approximately six months of recovery before the next stage can be performed.
Autologous ear reconstruction uses tissue from the patient’s own body, reducing the risk of infection. However, there are potential risks involved in any surgical procedure. The risks most commonly associated with ear reconstruction surgery are:
- Hematoma (blood clot)
- Skin discoloration
- Change in skin sensation
At the Plastic Surgery Clinic of Chicago, we take every measure possible to prevent any potential complication from arising. Patients can further minimize risks by adhering strictly to all instructions given by their plastic surgeon.
The cost of ear reconstruction is going to vary according to location, surgeon, surgical center, and individualized treatment plan. However, as a reconstructive procedure, your health insurance coverage may pay for some or even all of the cost of surgery. Be sure to talk with your health insurance provider before scheduling a consultation.
The Plastic Surgery Clinic of Chicago is equally committed to patient education and excellent patient care. If you have any questions about ear reconstruction and how it is performed, please schedule a consultation. We will perform a full facial evaluation and tailor a treatment plan that is right for you and your aesthetic goals.
All surgical procedures by the Plastic Surgery Clinic of Chicago are performed at top hospitals in Chicago and CMS or AAAASF-certified surgical centers for safety.