I am an American college student currently studying abroad in Italy. I was attacked on the street three nights ago, and at the top of my ear was torn from the outside of the lobe inwards, for maybe half of a centimeter. The hospital gave me stitches (maybe two or three), but nobody spoke English or could provide decent info. Are stitches enough? Will it ever look normal? How do I properly clean the stiches? Thank you!
Will Stitches Fixed Torn Cartilage at the Top of my Ear?
Doctor Answers 4
Ear laceration injury and repair
As long as the cartilage was not displaced, skin sutures should be adequate. Appropriate antibiotics should be administered with consideration for an IV dose if the cartilage was involved. For simple wound care, cleanse 3 times a day with half strength peroxide followed by bacitracin ointment, if not allergic. Seek attention ASAP for increased swelling, redness, drainage or fever.
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Italian Ear laceration
I am sorry to hear about your accident. Ear lacerations treated with appropriate technique can yield good outcomes. Whether your treatment was appropriate depends on the extent of your laceration. Time will tell about the outcome. Post op care for lacerations vary, I recommend you to clean the laceration with dilute hydrogen perioxide for a couple of days then you may shower and use dial antibacterial soap.
Without pictures or an exam, it is hard to give specific advice. Ear lacerations can be partial thickness in which only one layer of stitches is required. If they are full thickness, then three layers are required to repair the skin on both sides and the cartilage in between. If there was no loss of tissue, then you should do well. Just keep the sutures clean and make sure you have them removed in about 7 days. Good luck.
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Repair of ear lacerations
Ear lacerations can be quite complex. In general, if the cartilage of the ear is lacerated, the cartilage itself would have to be stitched (sutured) to position it for proper healing. Once the cartilage repair is done, the skin can be repaired with as many stitches as necessary.
The cartilage sutures will not be visible, so unless you saw them being placed, or were told that they were placed, then you could not tell from the outside.
To care for stitches in the skin, clean them with peroxide twice daily, and apply a topical antibiotic ointment (neosporin or the like).
Overall, I would suggest that you trust the people who treated you. Should you have any deformity or problems in the future, they can be addressed effectively in the US.