Ear graft/cartridge for rhinoplasty? Is that normal?

Hi guys, my doc said that he will have to take some cartridge behind my hear for my rhinoplasty revision. Been hearing that this hurts more than the actual nose and can leave the ear looking odd ans scared? I'm starting to worry about this now even though my doc made it seem like no big deal? Would someone mind explaining what I should expect? Will my ear go back to normal? Is it that noticable in the first place? How long does it heal?

Doctor Answers 4

Revision rhinoplasty using an ear graft

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In a revision rhinoplasty procedure, cartilage is needed in order to straighten out asymmetries, add strength and often rebuild tissue that was removed. The cartilage can be harvested from the nasal septum (if any remains), the ear or the rib. Other harvest sites are uncommon. 

Typically patients feel minimal pain after rhinoplasty. There is some mild discomfort after a ear graft harvest so patients are more aware of this than their rhinoplasty. This discomfort responds well to pain killers and is generally not a big deal for patients. 

The scar for an ear cartilage graft is typically placed in the crease behind the ear. The ear typically looks almost identical to how it looked before surgery. This is because the part of cartilage which is removed is not important to the overall shape of the ear. The ear is usually well healed at a week after surgery. 

If your surgeon has elected to use an ear graft it probably means that you need it. I would not be put off by some of the concerns you raised. An ear graft is a fairly routine procedure that is well tolerated by patients. 

Sydney Facial Plastic Surgeon

Revision rhinoplasty, cartilage graft, ear cartilage, rib cartilage,

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It is quite common to need additional cartilage when doing a revision rhinoplasty. Which source of cartilage, the ear or the rib, is chosen depends on the deformity that needs to be corrected. If the nose is too small, over resected or collapsed then it is more common to use rib cartilage to create structure and support. If there are subtle asymmetries, particularly in the tip, ear cartilage is an excellent alternative. The donor site with both rib cartilage and ear cartilage should not be particularly painful. There is discomfort and tenderness but seldom severe pain. If the cartilage is harvested properly deformity of the ear should not occur. Your doctor has given you excellent advice for the management of a subtle deformity of the nasal tip or possibly dorsum. If the nasal deformity is significant additional cartilage may be necessary. Be sure to discuss your concerns with your surgeon

Edward Farrior, MD
Tampa Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Ear cartilage graft for rhinoplasty revision

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Not every revision rhinoplasty requires cartilage grafting techniques.  In our rhinoplasty practice, we use nasal cartilage first, before electing to harvest ear cartilage. When ear cartilage is used, a small incision behind the ear is inconspicuous and heals quite well with only minimal amount of pain.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 157 reviews

Ear cartilage for rhino

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The best cartilage to use for grafts in rhinoplasty is the septal cartilage from inside the nose. However, in revision rhinoplasty, the septal cartilage is often not an option because it may have been already used in the previous surgery. In this situation, cartilage from the ear is a good substitute. It can be removed through an incision hidden in the curves of the ear that heals inconspicuously. If a limited amount of cartilage is harvested from the ear carefully and from an appropriate location, it will not affect the appearance of the ear after surgery at all. That portion of the ear may feel less rigid than before but will not look any different. Some patients do experience more discomfort from the ear cartilage harvest site. This is treatable with pain medication and always resolves. After surgery, it is common to have a bolster dressing sewn to the ear to prevent a hematoma or blood collection. This dressing and the sutures are removed at about a week. The incision on the ear should heal inconspicuously in a few weeks.

Vito C. Quatela, MD
Rochester Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.