Hello, I had otoplasty (conchal setback with cartilage removal and antiheical fold creation in both ears) a couple of days ago. Since the operation I am noticing a pulling sensation behind the ears. When I attempt to rotate my head to either side I feel the pulling sensation with discomfort, so I can only rotate about 45 degrees. I get the same feeling when really raising my eyebrows and fully smiling. Is this just due to the sutures and the incision healing or should I be worried? There is no bleeding, or excess swelling, and neither ear feels worse than the other. Thanks.
This should not be construed as medical advice. I am a retired Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.
I preferred Suture Conchal Bowl Setback
over excision. I did not like a step off in front of the ear that some contour anatomy forced.
Nerves surround the ear and injury to the nerves is one of many possible Otoplasty Complications
. Nerves can be hypersensitive for many possible reasons. Just the process of numbing up the ear is one of temporarily "poisoning" the nerve to block transmission of pain can sensitize nerves. The process of putting in the needle for the Plastic Surgery Anesthesia
local anesthetics is also an art form.The passage of the needle itself can injure the nerves. Too much medication, certain ones are stronger, also can hurt the nerve to different degrees. Cutting, dissection, suturing all can injure nerves. As a nerve recovers regaining sensation it typically becomes hypersensitive. Traction on tissues puts tension on irritated nerves. Some degree of nerve injury occurs with any surgery. The question becomes one of degree of injury and is there still an insulting factor like a nerve caught in a suture.
Nerves can also be irritated by lack of protection which is why I used a Formal Ear Dressing
. Yet, a poorly placed dressing also can cause damage, which is why I made my patients let me change the dressing myself if it became dislodged.
It was rare for my ear patients to complain of discomfort, but there are different operations, different techniques, and different surgeon's skills. Such discussions should be part of the consultation of risks, benefits and alternate methods of care. I asked my patients to call me immediately if they had any problems or concerns different than what we discussed before surgery. Problems were rare in my practice, but I would rather see the patient, check the ear, and change the dressing just to make sure everything was alright.
Hope this helps,
Michael Bermant, MD
Retired Plastic SurgeonLearn More About Otoplasty Ear Surgery