Fix Cauliflower Ears with Otoplasty
By Sheryl Pilcher on April 25, 2014
Otoplasty, or ear surgery, is the general term for any procedure through which the outer ear is adjusted in shape, size, or position. Although it is commonly used to correct one's natural appearance, such as by pinning ears back or reducing them in size, otoplasty can also help restore an ear that has been damaged. Such is the case with cauliflower ear - a deformity that results in the swelling and distortion of an ear's outer tissues. With surgery, this condition can be permanently corrected. Use the information below, as provided by our San Antonio office, to gain a better understanding of what causes cauliflower ear and how it can be treated.
What Is Cauliflower Ear?
When someone suffers a blow to the ear, such as from sports or injury, there is a chance that fluid transfer and blood flow will become blocked. Blood clots, hematomas, and similar fluid blockage eventually cause nearby cartilage to separate and die, before it is replaced by a more fibrous and swollen tissue. In many cases, this new tissue protrudes from the ear, resulting in poorly defined contours that are analogous to the bumps on cauliflower.
Once healed, this condition does not pose any significant health risks on its own. Still, cases of cauliflower ear can take a serious toll on one's appearance, leading patients to seek surgical treatment through otoplasty.
Who Is at Risk of Getting Cauliflower Ears?
Anyone who experiences blunt force or trauma to the ear is at risk of developing at least some degree of physical deformity, assuming the tissue is seriously damaged. However, this risk is highest for people who participate in activities that necessitate close-contact and sudden force. Wrestling, martial arts, and boxing are some of the most common sports that result in players developing cauliflower ear.
Prevention and Treatment
The best way to lower one's risk of developing cauliflower ear is to wear protective gear while participating in the associated sport or activity. Wrestlers, for instance, should wear headgear and earguards to lessen the impact from falls and other players. If an ear still suffers considerable damage, it may be worthwhile to seek immediate diagnosis from a doctor. When fluid blockage does seem to have formed, the development of cauliflower ear can be prevented or reduced by draining it.
Unfortunately, many people are reluctant to seek professional help when an injury does not seem serious at first, and swelling is often seen as a harmless symptom of any injury. If the ear takes on a permanent deformation, otoplasty can restore its shape and size. The exact surgical process depends on the nature of the ear. In many instances, the plastic surgeon will make an incision behind the ear, through which unwanted tissue will be removed and remaining tissue contoured. In cases where a large amount of tissue has been removed, a skin graft may be necessary to restore the ear's form. Speak with your plastic surgeon to gain a more accurate understanding of what your otoplasty may comprise.
Candidates for Otoplasty
As with any surgical procedure, candidates for otoplasty must be in good general health. Diseases or conditions that compromise the immune system will likely interfere with one's recovery, posing a greater risk of post-operative complication. Similarly, smokers should abstain from tobacco use in the weeks prior to and following surgery.
In addition to the normal contraindications of plastic surgery, otoplasty is best reserved for patients who no longer expect to suffer additional head or ear trauma. This means that whether a person is competing in a sport for school or professionally, he or she should finish participating in said sport before seeking otoplasty. Otherwise, the ear is just as likely to sustain future damage and cauliflower ear may return.
How Can Ear Surgery Help You?
Otoplasty is a versatile procedure that can fix a variety of common cosmetic problems. To learn more about our services and what you can specifically expect from ear surgery, contact our office at your convenience.
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