Protruding, or bat ears, are now a recognised irregularity that is most common in infants, however, as people age, a build-up of tissue in the ear can also cause the ear to have a protruded appearance.
The cause of protruding ears
There are several reasons why someone could end up with protruding ears, ranging from genetics to trauma and nerve damage.
Because of the delicate development process that takes place in the womb, protruding ears are one of the most common defects in infants. In many cases, the protruding ears will disappear as the baby grows but in other cases, this defect is a sign of a chromosomal abnormality such as Down syndrome.
In the case of adults, a trauma to the ear can damage the cartilage, which leads to a floppy or protruding ear, with boxing being a prime example of a situation where a trauma may occur. Disorders such as Bell’s palsy that damage the facial nerves can also cause the ears to droop.
Finally, ageing can also be a cause of protruding ears. As we age, excess cartilage builds up in the ear area, which can make the ears look like they’re protruding.
Types of protruding ears
Jade Clinic are bat ear correction specialists in Cairns who treat two types of protruding ear conditions.
Folded ears that occur due to genetics or in children with Down or foetal alcohol syndrome are known as protruding ears. When the ear has an elongated lobe that causes a protruded appearance, it’s referred to as bat ears.
Fortunately, both types of protruding ear conditions can be treated.
Surgery for protruding ears
Otoplasty is the name of the surgery used to treat protruding or bat ears and is performed by a cosmetic surgeon, otolaryngologist or ear, nose and throat surgeon.
During the procedure, an incision is made behind the ear in order to reshape the fold and pull the ear closer to the head. An average otoplasty surgery till last 2 hours and is performed under local or general anaesthetic.
When treating bat ears, excess cartilage is removed and the skin around the ear is tightened in order to create a smaller, lifted earlobe.
Patients will need 5 to 7 days to recover from this procedure but swelling and bruising will only disappear completely after 3 weeks.
An otoplasty procedure can be performed on children as young as 5 but when the child has a chromosome disorder, it’s best to wait until they are 5 or 6 years of age before performing the surgery.
Is surgery really necessary?
To begin with, protruding ears can lead to years of teasing and ridicule during a child’s school years.
As an adult that has experienced a trauma, protruding ears can eventually cause the ear canal to close, which can affect hearing. Also, if the ear is swollen and left untreated, it can cause the ear to rupture, which might lead to amputation of the outer ear.
Overall, it’s best to treat protruding or bat ears with the help of a qualified surgeon.