Partial or complete traumatic ear loss can occur as a result of various injuries. The most common cause in the UK is a human bite following an alcohol related assault. Other causes include road traffic accidents, burns and cancer surgery to the ear.
There are also a large number of cases internationally which were inflicted as punishment for army desertion. Loss of the external ear in an adult is likely to lead to significant psychological distress. This often impacts on social interaction, career and personal relationships.
Ear reconstruction using sculpted rib cartilage is the optimal treatment for most cases.
A three dimensional framework of the missing portion is carved and positioned under the adjacent skin to reconstruct the ear.
In most cases there is sufficient skin to cover the carved cartilage.
If, however, there is extensive scarring or the hairline is very low then other techniques can be utilised such as tissue expansion or a flap of tissue from under the scalp.
Nearly all cases of traumatic ear reconstruction are performed in two stages. In the first stage the shape of the ear is recreated.
In the second stage the ear is elevated from the side of the head to allow projection.