Post-Operative Instructions for Ear Surgery

Post-operative care is very important.  Unnecessary pain and the complications of infection and swelling may be minimized if the instructions are followed carefully.  Sometimes the after effects of surgery are quite minimal, so not all these instructions may apply.  Common sense will often dictate what you should do.  However, when in doubt, follow these guidelines or call our office any time for clarification.

The success of the surgery lies in the hands of the patient as well as the surgeon.  The best surgeon on earth will not obtain satisfactory results if the patients do not properly care for themselves after surgery.  In order to take advantage of all the positive changes associated with the facelift the patient must pay close attention to the recovery process.

Introduction

The following is a list of general instructions for your care following your otoplasty.  Please read them carefully several times as most of your questions can be answered here.  Carefully following these instructions should help you get the best results from her procedure.

Immediately Following Surgery

  • An adult should stay with you for at least the first 24 hours after surgery.  Rest is absolutely necessary.
  • You will be wrapped in dressings that will not be removed until your 24 hour follow up appointment.
  • You should rest with your head elevated in a recliner or with at least 2 pillows for at least the first week after surgery.  Try not to sleep on the side of your face but rather sleep with the back of your head on the pillow for about two weeks.  Some patients prefer an airline type pillow for comfort.  Also popular is the common pillow called a “husband.”  This is the large pillow that has extensions that go under the arms and supports the patient.
  • Take the prescribed pain medications before you begin to feel discomfort.  It is easier to prevent pain than control it. 
  • Restrict your activities the day of surgery and several days afterwards.  It is not unusual to require 7 to 10 days before you are feeling back to normal, and before you can resume physical activity.
  • Place ice packs over the surgical sites.  
  • CAUTION: If you suddenly sit up or stand from a lying position you may become dizzy.  If you are lying down following surgery, make sure you sit for one minute before standing.  Stand up slowly to provide time to steady yourself.  If you feel dizzy when you sit or stand, you should lie back down immediately to minimize the possibility of fainting.

Daily Care

Your dressing after surgery will remain on until the following morning.  It is important to relax and keep your head elevated the night after surgery.  Your dressing will be removed the morning after surgery.  At that point we’ll review your care:

  • Go over suture lines behind the ears 3 times daily with hydrogen peroxide on a Q-tip.  After this, again with a Q-tip, apply a liberal amount of Vaseline or Bacitracin ointment.  The stitches behind the ears are dissolvable and keeping them lubricated helps quicken the process.
  • Your headband will be placed over the ears the morning following the surgery.  Please try to wear it at all times for the first 2 weeks following surgery.  This is important to keep your new ears in the correct position.  You may shower the second day following surgery.  Baths are better choice for most people.  Be sure to use a gentle shampoo such as Johnson’s baby shampoo
  • Be sure to report immediately any signs of bleeding that persist for more than 10 min., infections, redness, fever, unusual drainage, or excessive pain.
  • If non-resorbable sutures are used a will be removed on the seventh day after surgery.
  • Following 2 weeks, please wear your headband at night until the six-week point.

What to expect

Swelling
Swelling will vary from patient to patient.  Swelling may actually increase the first 3-4 days before subsiding.  Most swelling should resolve over the first 2-3 weeks.  Do expect, however, to have minor fluctuations in the remaining swelling over the course of the next 2-3 months.  Things to do to minimize the swelling include: Applying cold packs to both ears for the first 3-4 days, keeping your head elevated as much as possible over the first 2-3 weeks, avoiding bending over or heavy lifting for the first 3 weeks, and avoiding prolonged sun exposure for the first 2-3 months.

Discoloration
Bruising will vary like swelling from person to person.  Most bruising and discoloration should resolve over the first 2 weeks.  Makeup, with Dr. Hammond‘s permission can be applied 10 days to 2 weeks after surgery.

Numbness
Your ears may be numb following surgery.  His is normal and will subside over the coming weeks to months.  Unusual sensations, pins and needles, and occasionally mild discomfort may occur as these nerves regenerate over time.

Depression
It is not uncommon for patients to go through a period of mild depression after cosmetic surgery.  This typically occurs the second week after surgery while some of the swelling and bruising still persist and yet the patient is anxious to see a final result.  Realize this is a temporary condition and things will improve.  Focus on diligently following the wound care as well as other activities to help divert your mind.

Restrictions

  • No strenuous exercise for at least 2 weeks.
  • No heavy lifting for 3 weeks.
  • No “pull-over” clothing for 2 weeks.
  • Avoid chewing hard foods for 2 weeks.
  • No contact sports for 6 weeks.

Finally

The healing time for ear surgery is often less than expected and the results are worth the wait.  While swelling should be completely gone after four to six weeks, your healing will continue for the entire first year.  I will follow you through this entire process, but be patient. 

  • Slight elevation of temperature immediately following surgery is not uncommon.  If the temperature persists, notify the office.  Tylenol should be taken to reduce the fever.
  • Your case is individual as no two people are alike.  Do not accept well intended advice from friends. Discuss your questions and concerns with either Dr. Hammond or a member of their staff. 
  • An appointment will be made at the front desk for 24 hours after the surgery to check the surgical sites.  If you did not receive an appointment please don’t hesitate to call our office so we can see you.  We will then see you at 1 week.
  • Do not smoke for at least 2 weeks post operatively as smoking significantly delays healing and increases the risk of complications.
  • If you have any questions regarding your condition, it is best to call the office during our regular office hours.  A follow-up visit is provided as a courtesy at no charge.  If you have a true emergency, Doctor Hammond or his assistant can be reached 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  During the day call the office number.  At night, call Dr. Hammond on his cell phone.  If there is no answer, leave a message and Dr. Hammond will call you back as soon as possible.