Prominent Ears

The Problem

About 1% of the population think their ears stick out too much.
Prominent ears causes significant psychological distress to many people.
Children are often teased and bullied at school. Adults can be teased by work colleagues.
In both children and adults prominent ears can damage self esteem and self confidence.
People become very self conscious about their appearance and will avoid having a short haircut and women will avoid wearing their hair up.
Prominent ears are known by a number of derogatory terms such as :
Bat Ears
Sticking Out Ears
Teapot Ears
Dumbo Ears
A prominent ear can be on one side only (unilateral) or both sides (bilateral).

Why Do Some Ears Stick Out?

The medical name for the ear is the PINNA. The pinna is made from cartilage. The cartilage has folds in it which gives the ear its shape.
There are 2 main reasons for prominent ears:
  • 1. Failure of the ANTIHELICAL fold to form. If this fold in the cartilage does not form or only partly forms then the ear will stick out.
  • 2. A large CONCHAL BOWLSometimes this part of the pinna just next to the ear hole is very deep lifting the rest of the pinna away from the head and making the ear stick out further than normal.

People may have one of both of these abnormalities. Different surgical techniques are required to correct the different deformities.

What Is The Treatment for Prominent Ears?

Under 6 months Old
When a baby is born the ear cartilage is very soft and can sometimes be reshaped by wearing special splints on the pinna to hold it in the correct shape. This needs to be done before 6 months of age.
Over 6 months old
After 6 months old a surgical procedure is required to correct the prominent ears.
It can be carried out in children from about the age of 5 years old and also in teenagers and adults.
The operation is not usually funded on the NHS. I believe that in some areas of the country it is still funded on the NHS for children.
The operation has a variety of names:

For more information on Ears and Hearing UK...