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Surgical correction of a child’s prominent ears

What are prominent ears?

Prominent ears are when the ears ‘stick out’. These photographs before and after surgery give an idea of what this means.


It is important to remember the post-operative results will depend upon the severity of the original ear shape.

How are they treated?

Various different surgical procedures may be used to correct ears which ‘stick out’. This depends upon the underlying reason for the condition.

Your child’s surgeon will explain this to you before the operation.

Your child’s ears will be protected by a large bandage around their head or ears following their operation.

What are the risks of the operation?

Common risks

  • bruising and swelling
  • numbness, cold sensitivity
  • mild asymmetry (subtle unequal appearance)
  • extrusion of stitches (when the body pushes the suture out instead of dissolving it, creating an inflamed red area)

 Uncommon risks

  • bleeding (haematoma)
  • infection
  • incomplete improvement
  • slow healing
  • skin necrosis or skin blistering
  • unsightly scarring (a thickened, red scar)
  • need for repeat surgery
  • over-corrected ears

Are there alternative treatments?

Yes. If the decision is taken to correct the condition before the age of 5 years ear splints may be an option to consider.

Photograph showing an ear splint

On the day of the operation

What time will my child have their operation?

You will have been informed whether your child’s operation is in the morning or afternoon in the letter you received from the hospital.

What time should I bring my child to the ward?

You will have received a letter (usually 6 to 8 weeks after the decision has been made for your child to undergo this operation) telling you the date of your child’s operation and the time you need to bring them into hospital.

If your child’s operation is in the morning you need to arrive at 8am or 7.45am if your child is being admitted to the Theatre Admissions Unit.

If your child’s operation is in the afternoon you need to arrive at 11am or 12pm (midday) if your child is being admitted to Theatre Admissions Unit.

What should I do if my child is unwell or has a temperature a few days before or on the day of their operation?

You need to telephone the hospital on 0114 271 7286 and tell us. You will then be told whether it would be safe for your child to have their operation as planned.

What time should I give my child their last food and drink?

If your child’s operation is in the morning they can eat until midnight and then have juice or water until 6am.


If the operation is in the morning they must not have anything after 6am or their operation will be cancelled. This includes no chewing gum.

If your child’s operation is in the afternoon they must have finished their breakfast by 7.30am. They can continue to drink juice or water until 10.30am.


If the operation is in the afternoon they must not have anything after 11am or their operation will be cancelled. This includes no chewing gum.

What will happen when we arrive on the ward?

A junior doctor and an anaesthetist will visit your child and make sure they are fit for their operation. They may prescribe some magic cream for your child’s hand so that it doesn’t hurt when a tiny tube is inserted into your child’s had to allow the anaesthetic to be given. This tube is inserted when they are in the anaesthetic room.

The surgeon will also see you and your child before their operation.

A nurse will take your child’s temperature, weigh them and put a name band on their wrist. Your child will be asked to put on a theatre gown or their pyjamas. If your child has long hair they will need to tie it up in a ponytail with a non-metallic band. All jewellery and nail varnish must be removed. The nurse will then apply the magic cream to their hands.

Your child will either walk or be taken to theatre on a trolley. One parent or guardian may go to the anaesthetic room and stay with them until they are asleep.

How long will the operation take?

Your child will be away from the ward for about 1 to 2 hours altogether.

After the operation

Will I be there when my child wakes up?

The escort who takes you and your child to the anaesthetic room will tell you how you will be contacted so that you can be with your child.

Will my child have any pain?

Your child will have been given some strong painkillers in theatre before they wake up. They may also have been given an injection of a local anaesthetic into the back of their ears before they wake up. This lasts for several hours.

They may have some pain later but the nurse will give them some medication to ease this.

When can my child have something to eat or drink?

Your child can have their first drink as soon as they wake up after the operation. Once they have had a drink the nurse will tell you when they can have something to eat. This is usually a slice of toast or a biscuit.

When can my child go home?

If your child has no pain, their temperature is normal and they do not feel sick, they will be allowed home the same day.

How do I look after my child at home?

Children get over the operation quickly and usually go home the same day. The ears will ache for a few days and sometimes longer.

Regular painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen are advised in the first few days. The ears may also feel numb, but this usually settles in a few weeks. Your surgeon may prescribe antibiotics for the first week after surgery.

When will the head bandage be removed?

The bandage will be removed at 7 days, and your surgeon may ask your child to wear a sweatband at night for 6 to 8 weeks. Your child’s ears will look bruised and swollen. The ear returns to a normal appearance usually 2 weeks after the bandage has been removed.

You must keep your child’s ears dry for at least a week following the operation.

If your child’s ear bleeds, the wound looks open or smells you need to contact Theatre Admissions Unit or Ward 2 for advice.

Can my child’s get their ears wet?

Your child will be given a bandage to wear at night to protect the ears until they have fully healed.

When can my child return to school?

Your child will need 2 weeks off school. Your child must not participate in any sporting activities until their ears are fully healed (usually 1 month after the operation.

Will my child need to see their surgeon again?

Yes. You will be given an outpatient appointment usually 2 to 3 months after your child’s operation.

Further resources

Please read our resource for more information about risks of anaesthetics.

Is something missing from this resource that you think should be included? Please let us know

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

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