What kinds of risks are associated with ear surgery?

Complications due to ear surgery are rare and usually minor if they occur. However, as with all surgery, there are some risks associated with it, such as bleeding and infection. Very rarely more serious complications can occur, such as the rejection of sutures.


What should be kept in mind regarding the need for ear surgery?

As ear surgery is most often performed on children, it is important that parents try to determine the actual psychological effect the prominent ears have on the child. Encouraging the child to have surgery when they are perfectly content with their appearance is not recommended. Children that are dissatisfied with their appearance are more likely to be satisfied with the result. In the initial interview, the surgeon will review with you the scope of the surgery, explain the procedure and offer advice on how best to prepare.


Where is the surgery performed?

The surgery is performed at in an operating theatre at Domus Medica Medical Centre in Reykjavík. Dr. Stefánsson and Dr. Einarsson‘s offices are on the 4th floor and operating rooms on the 6th floor.


What happens during the surgery?

Ear surgery does not require general anaesthesia although it is often preferred for children. Procedures on teenagers and adults are usually performed with a local anaesthetic. During the surgery, the surgeon makes an incision behind the ear to access the cartilage. The cartilage is folded and placed closer to the head. Sometimes part of it may be removed. The incision is then closed and leaves an inconspicuous scar behind the ear which becomes almost invisible with time.


How long will the procedure take?

An ear surgery of this type usually takes about 1 ½ -2 ½ hours. More complicated procedures can take longer.


How long will it take to recover?

Adults and teenagers that receive this surgery are usually on their feet a few hours after the procedure. Children who have been put under anaesthesia usually need to be monitored for a few hours while waking up and recovering from the anaesthesia. Bandages are placed around the head to support the healing of the new shape and to speed the recovery.  It is likely that you, or your child, will feel some pain after the surgery.  This pain can be reduced with prescription pain killers. The bandages are removed after a few days and replaced with lighter bandages.  Sweatbands are commonly worn following the surgery in order to protect the ears and support the development of the shape while the wounds heal.  It is imperative to follow the surgeon’s orders regarding the bandages, especially at night. Usually absorbable sutures are used which break down safely in 4 to 6 weeks. To ensure a swift recovery, it is important to avoid sports or games that could result in jarring of the ears. Most adults can return to work in a couple of days and children can usually return to school in a week although they must take great care during recess and sports. Getting the teachers involved can be helpful so that they can monitor the child’s activities in the weeks following the surgery.


What effects will this altered appearance have?

Most people who have this surgery are satisfied with the results. However, it is important to keep in mind that the surgery is intended to improve appearance and well-being. This surgery will not bring miracles or complete perfection. Often the ears are not perfectly evenly placed. If the expectations are in sync with realistic expectations after the initial interview, the chances of being satisfied with the surgery are very high.