Reconstructive Surgery

The Basic Principles of Reconstruction

One of the most important principles in facial reconstruction (and any other reconstruction) is to try and use tissues of a similar colour and type. This means, for example, that if one needs to replace missing skin then one should try and make use of any extra skin in the immediate vicinity. Skin from the same area has a similar colour and will give less of a patchwork appearance. If there is not enough skin then one has to consider doing a skin graft – taking a thin shaving of skin from another area of the body.

In certain situations, particularly when there are complex defects, there may not be enough local tissue to reconstruct the defect. In this situation, tissue needs to be taken from other parts of the body where the loss will cause no functional (and little cosmetic) problems. Transferring tissue like this is called free flap surgery.

Facial Reconstructive Surgery

Cancers of and injuries to the face are the most common reasons for requiring facial reconstruction. Clearly there is an almost infinite range of facial defects that can result from trauma or cancer, so the treatment has to be individualised.

Surgery for Prominent Ears

Prominent ears are more commonly referred to as bat ears, bak ore or wingnuts. For some people, their prominent ears are a feature that gives them a certain charm but for others their ears are the focus of much derision. 

My New Baby Has Prominent Ears, What Can I Do?

Prominent ears are usually apparent at or shortly after birth. If detected early (within the first few days after birth), the ears can be moulded into a more pleasing shape by splinting the ears with malleable plastic. The splinting needs to continue for about a month. If splinting is started after the first week of birth then there is not much success using this method. 

How and When Can Prominent Ears Be Corrected?

The only other way to correct prominent ears is with surgery. One usually waits until the child is at least five years old before performing an operation so that the cartilage has matured and can be shaped more easily (there is also a potential risk of impairing growth of the ears if one operates too early). The surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic in children but can be done under a local anaesthetic in adults. An incision is made in the crease behind the ear as well as a crescent-shaped incision which is placed in the bowl of the ear

Does My Child Need to Wear a Headband After Surgery?

The ears cannot be pulled forward for several weeks after surgery without risking tearing a suture. To prevent this from happening, it is necessary to have a bandage around one's head continuously for the first week after surgery. After this week, the head bandage is removed and one can then wash one's hair, but it is still necessary to wear a head band at night for another five weeks.