Introduction to Ear Reshaping with EarFold®
EarFold® is the brand name of a leading new treatment for prominent ears which reshapes your ears in a simple procedure lasting about 30 minutes. It is minimally invasive (a small cut is made), and is carried out under local anaesthesia with immediate reshaping and rapid recovery.
EarFold® is a thin metal alloy strip which has the ability of maintaining its shape, it has “memory”. The material used to make the implant has been in use by medics for many years, is safe and is the material used to make heart stents.
The implant is almost as thin as a human hair and coated with 24 carat gold to minimise its visibility through skin.
Who Is Suitable?
The treatment is suitable for anyone over the age of 17, where the concern is to reduce the appearance of prominent ears, by inserting an implant to make the ears lie back closer to the head.
EarFold® is suitable for most people who suffer from prominent ears. Your suitability will be assessed at your first consultation. Patients with prominent ears that are caused by the absence or the poor development of the anti-helical fold (see diagram) will benefit most from EarFold®. However, in some cases, prominence can also be due to a very deep conchal bowl. In such cases, EarFold® may be able to improve the problem, but will not correct it altogether. Your surgeon will take time to explain this during the initial consultation.
The EarFold® implant is also an excellent solution for people with asymmetric ears; (one ear is more prominent than the other).
The Procedure and Risks
A local anaesthetic injection is used to completely numb the ear. The EarFold® implants are then inserted under the skin of the ear via a small incision using a specially designed medical instrument. Once in place, the implant grips the cartilage of the ear and immediately adopts the pre-decided shape. The EarFold® implant enhances the shape of the anti-helical fold, reducing the prominence of the ear. The incision is then closed and whilst in place, the implant remoulds the cartilage of the ear, allowing it to maintain its new shape and position. The EarFold® implant is made from a super-elastic metal alloy, so your ear can still be moved in a natural way whilst the implant is in place. The procedure takes around 30 minutes to complete.
You should expect some pain or discomfort once the local anaesthetic wears off (approximately 2 – 3 hours after treatment). We recommend that you take some paracetamol or ibuprofen before the anaesthetic has worn off to minimise this discomfort and suggest that you continue taking pain-killers for 2-3 days after treatment or until your ears are no longer painful.
Some bleeding occurs in most cases on the day of insertion but may continue for 1-2 days afterwards. If bleeding persists it is easily dealt with by pressing a clean piece of tissue paper over the incisions for at least 5 minutes. Be prepared for the occasional blood stain on your pillowcase.
Some bruising and swelling is expected for a few days after treatment. This will be visible but settles after 3-4 days in most cases. In some cases, it may persist for up to 1 week after treatment.
Ears can be sensitive to touch or cold air and this can persist for a few weeks after treatment in some patients.
As with all surgical procedures there is the possibility of complications such as infection or visibility of the implant. Each patient is different and has different skin, if you are concerned about any issues please feel free to discuss these with your plastic surgeon during your consultation.
On The Day
The treatment is performed in a suitable surgical facility. The position of the implants will be marked on your ears with a marker pen and your ears will be cleaned with antiseptic solution. You will experience a small discomfort and a slight sting for a few seconds as the local anaesthetic injection is administered. Thereafter, the rest of the procedure is painless.
After treatment patients can return home. There is no need for bulky bandages or other dressings but you may be given a short (3 day) prescription for antibiotics – this is a purely precautionary measure. The skin incisions are closed with absorbable sutures, which drop out by themselves after 2-3 weeks at most. Arrangements will also be made for your follow-up in clinic – typically 6 weeks after surgery and a further follow-up 3 months later.
We advise you to avoid contact sports or sporting activities in general (including swimming) for approximately 4 weeks after treatment, be cautious to avoid any significant trauma to your ears.
Washing and Cleaning
You may wash your hair and your ears immediately. Let the water run freely over your ears but do not scrub them until 2 weeks following the procedure to avoid the risk of dislodging the implants. If you do wash your ears, the adhesive dressing which is applied will probably fall off. Do not worry if this does occur; the dressing will not need to be replaced.
Avoid wearing earrings or using a mobile phone for 2-3 weeks following treatment. (If you wish to use a mobile phone after the procedure then we suggest you clean the telephone with a wet-wipe disinfectant before use to reduce the risk of contamination.)
We advise you to sleep lying on your back for the first few weeks after having the procedure. Using an inflatable travel pillow or a Velcro head-band will help avoid your ears making contact with any objects which will allow your ears to heal faster.
Is EarFold® suitable for all age groups?
EarFold® is suitable for both adults and children. If a child is old enough to co-operate with having a local anaesthetic injection, then the child is suitable for treatment with EarFold®. Children as young as 7 years of age have been treated without difficulty. A child must be able to give his/her consent to the procedure.
How much correction can be achieved with EarFold®?
EarFold® provides you with a unique opportunity to select the amount of correction that you want.
Are there any potential risks or complications?
The possibility of complications is present in every surgery such as infection or visibility of the implant. Your surgeon will explain the procedure and risks with you at your consultation.
How long does the procedure take?
This will depend on a number of factors such as the number of implants needed. However the whole procedure (making an incision, inserting EarFold® and closing the incision) should take no longer than 30 minutes.
When can I return to normal activity?
Most patients return to work soon after the procedure. We do however advise patients to avoid contact sports and swimming for approximately 4 weeks after treatment, and be cautious to avoid any significant trauma to your ears.
Does the implant need to be removed or replaced?
No, the implant is permanent as it is biocompatible. If you do decide to have it removed this can done under a local anaesthetic.