I hade my ears pinned back twice whe I was younger. The last one about 15 years ago. This past year or two I have had trouble sleeping at night due to severe ear pain where my folds/scar tissue is. I have tried many different pillows to help but even the softest ones feels like my ear has been laying on a brick and then I wake up due to the pain. Hurts so bad I can't even touch it. Is this normal so many years after surgery?
This should not be construed as medical advice. I am a retired Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.
Welcome to our forum. Sorry for the delayed response.
I went over an extensive discussion about Otoplasty Complications
with each of my patients during their consultations before their surgery. Risk of nerve injury is inherent in most forms of surgery and with the ears, shows itself as an initial numbness or loss of sensation. As nerves heal, the sensation can recover completely, partially, or not at all.
Scars are another issue with any surgery. Scars with ears can mean less supple nature or bendability of the cartilage. Nerves encased in scars can lose sensation or be irritated. This can happen anywhere in the body. For the ear, activities that stress the ear shape such as sleep, helmets, or head wear, all can put pressure on the nerve. That is why I pushed so hard with my Dynamic Otoplasty Technique
moving up the ladder of increased damaging options until I achieved the contour I was looking for. Surgery could have taken longer, but the less destructive methods were better for minimizing scarring as much as possible.
Some of this can be vascular in nature. Less blood flow and the area goes numb sometimes white and then causes pain to wake the body up asking it to move and restore blood flow. This is a part of protecting the body from worse harm. If pushed too far, loss of blood supply can result in further damage to the structures, loss of them and even open wounds. Nicotine really can be an issue when vascular problems are present at any time. Ear Protection
Right after surgery or trauma, the need for protection is so intense I used a Formal Ear Dressing
. But these are expensive and require a great deal of skill to put on or more damage can result.
For some of my patients another stage was:
an ear protector, like wrestlers wear. I preferred to see and check the ear for fitting for my patients to make sure there was no pressure on healing structures. For those with fragile tissue, I also cautioned that care had to be taken to not injure other areas. Sometimes I added padding to change the protection pattern. Yes they look ridiculous, but try to keep an ear in a hole cut in a foam pillow?! OK for surgery with anesthesia to monitor, but not for a patient at home with or without partner.
Search on Amazon for Headgear and Ear Guards
They come in so many different configurations, not all will work to protect the right part of an injured ear or donor sites that may also have been worked on during the surgery.
I was in the process of building a web page about the details that would continue this answer, but decided to finish this post without that resource completed or my thoughts about the topic. Will try to add that new tool when I get time to finish it.
I do try to answer questions more quickly, but there is only so much time in the day and now I am retired. But I do like a quick response format and will try to get to that part of the answer. That is why the response is unfinished.
Hope this helps,
Michael Bermant, MD
Retired Plastic SurgeonLearn More About Otoplasty Ear Surgery