Everyone’s ears stick out a little from the sides of our heads, but for about 2% of us, they protrude a bit further than normal. The most common reason for this is that the cartilage hasn’t folded correctly, which puts the ear at an extreme angle. Otoplasty surgery can pin the ear back into a more natural looking position.
The Shape of Your Ears
The external part of your ear is made up of folds of cartilage that are also known as the pinna. The shape of these folds can help to funnel sound towards the internal ear. Although the precise shape can vary, the outer rim or helix of the ear usually forms a big C. Inside this there are several folds that join to create a shape a bit like the letter y. These are the antihelix and the super and inferior crura. At the centre of the ear, around the ear canal, are the shell-like concha and the bump of the tragus.
When the ear protrudes too much, it is usually because the antihelical fold hasn’t developed properly. This makes the outer rim of the ear stick out. The concha is also likely to be particularly deep, which can push the ear out from the head. The problem can be particularly noticeable in children because the ears actually reach their full size before the rest of the head catches up. It can also run in families, so if you have ears that stick out there may be someone in your family who has the same ears.
Reshaping Ear Cartilage
Having protruding ears won’t affect your hearing or cause any medical issues, but they can make you feel very self-conscious. Unfortunately, they can also become targets for name calling and bullying, particularly among children. Otoplasty can correct this issue by reshaping the cartilage. Theotoplasty surgery can only be carried out once the cartilage has fully developed so that it will be firm enough to hold the new shape. The cartilage is simply scored and stitched into place.