Earfold: Did I Do the Right Thing?

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24 hours after surgery I am a 41 year old mother...

24 hours after surgery

I am a 41 year old mother of 2. One of my daughters (9) has my sticking out ears, and is sometimes a bit self conscious of this. I've always been very self conscious of my ears, and have always had my hair cut so that they are covered up. I've never been able to put up my hair without pinning down my ears with hair clips, which doesn't look great, and I'm always worried that they will be visible when swimming etc.

I always thought that I would like surgery in future When I was younger, my parents always said that I should make the decision to have an operation when I was "grown up", which never seemed to happen. It does seem slightly crazy to be doing an operation like this at my age, but one day my hair will probably get thinner, and I think I’d be desperately self conscious then.

I found out about the earfold procedure online and through this site, and thought it sounded great, as I've always been fearful of full otoplasty. I also thought that one day my daughter might want this, and I thought that I should try it out.

Dr Norbert Kang seems to have invented this procedure, and is of course promoting it on this site. I found a few reviews of him as a surgeon and of the earfold operation, which sounded OK.

In the initial consultation, Dr Kang was very friendly and thoughtful and spent the time talking through the procedure and trying different options with the earfold clips. I wish I'd taken my own photos of my ears with the clips in on my phone, as it took sometime for the administrator to send me my photos afterwards.

The problem was that my ears are not symmetrical and one ear responded very well to the earfold clip, and looked good, while the other one either looked like it was folding back in an unnatural way. We discussed him doing a "mustarde suture" ie stitches to pull the ear back to match the other one. I didn't really like the idea of doing that as I saw lots of gory photos online of that procedure, and I think the recovery time is much longer.

After the consultation, it was really quite difficult to arrange a date for an operation, due to the fact that the receptionist was on holiday for 2 weeks when I rang having made a decision to do it. When she got back there were no slots available for the only time that I could be on holiday after the operation ( August ). This was very disappointing for me, and I then had to rearrange for the next time there were going to be school holidays (October). There didn’t seem to be anyone covering his reception/booking system when his receptionist was on holiday. I spoke to someone else, but they couldn’t access the booking system.

When I came back 6 months later October to have the operation, Dr Kang went through the planning stage again, which I really appreciated. I wasn't sure about the stitching option at all. We tried the earfold again on the difficult right ear, and I thought it looked OK. I got his assistant to take photos from all angles with my phone so I could see, as it looked fine from the front, but you never know from the side. In the end we decided to go for 2 earfold clips in a straightforward (and cheaper!) operation. He was quite persuasive about this option, as I could see that it would be easier and quicker for him, but he did it in a way that made me feel that I had made the decision.

The operation itself was very quick. Dr Kang put on music which was nice, and was very good at keeping all surgical instruments and needles out of my sight. I didn't try to look, and basically didn't see anything, just felt it. The 4 anaesthetic injections did sting, but it was OK. It was all done very efficiently and skillfully.

I hardly felt the earfold clips going in at all. I could see him stitching me up again, and then it was all over. Afterwards he showed me a front view in a mirror, and it looked fine, and then he was clearly very keen to get me out of the room so he could move onto the next person.

When I got home I looked in a mirror where I could see myself from all angles, and felt very worried about how my right ear looked. It was really folded back on itself and I really didn't feel happy with how it looked. I felt upset that I had gone with what Dr Kang had clearly wanted to make his life easier. I wished that I had asked for the stitching instead.

Looking at the photos that I took afterwards, I think maybe my ear is quite swollen, so I need to wait until that has subsided to really make a decision. I am not sure what I expected to happen as I do have big ears and the flappy bits had to go somewhere! The worst picture is of the RHS ear from behind, where it just looks weird and unnatural.

During the operation, Dr Kang did say that he could cut a bit of the cartilage on the right ear to let it come forward a bit to make it look more natural. I’d have to wait at least 3 months for the earfold to heal before doing it. I felt that it seemed strange to try to make my ear stick forward again after spending all this money on making them fold back. However, looking at the photos, I can see what he meant, and this might be a good option in time.

Overall, I’m pleased that I have finally done this, and don’t regret it. It’s been emotional – I’ve gone from feeling selfish to vain to stupid to relieved and back again. Dr Kang is really nice, and I’m glad that I did the procedure with someone who has so much experience.

My only advice to others would be to stick to your intentions – you only get to do the operation once, and then there is lots pain to go through in the healing process, so make sure that you are 100% happy and don’t leave the operating room until you are!

Earfold: did I do the right thing?

26.12.16

2 months later and here are my updated photos. The swelling has gone done now. My left ear has healed very well and I'm very pleased with the results.

The right ear didn't heal well at all, and after 3 weeks I had to go to the doctor and get antibiotics to help it heal. It still hurts if I catch it on my hairbrush. The helix goes to a point on this ear, which looks strange and it looks very "folded back", which of course it is! I didn’t really expect this, but I had unrealistic expectations. Looking at the photos from the initial consultation I can see that the helix of my ears is large and without cutting out some of the back of my ear there is no way that my ears could appear “normal”.

My kids say my ears don’t look natural and I still haven't worn my hair completely up away from my ears in public as I feel self conscious. However, I can now tuck my hair behind my ears as some of it falls over the antihelix of the ears, so I feel OK about that. It sounds trivial, but I’ve never been able to tuck my hair behind my ears before and I’m super excited about that!!

I’m going back for a follow up appointment with Dr Kang, so will find out more about doing something about the pointed bit on my right helix.

Recovery

Following the surgery I went home on the train and the anaesthetic lasted until the middle of the night that night. When it wore off it started stinging like crazy. It was bearable though, and I just took two paracetamol with codine and went back to bed. The thing that really got me through was my flight pillow – the U-shaped thing. I had two – one firm and one soft. If it hadn’t been for them I don’t know how I would have slept. I always sleep on my side and I just couldn’t have anything touching them at night. It was about 8 weeks until I could sleep with a normal pillow again.

The thing that surprised me was not how much it hurt, but how long the pain lasted for. When I researched Dr Kang, it sounded like he gave patients antibiotics after the procedure during the trial, but he must have stopped doing this. I think I could have done with this as my right ear took ages to heal and still feels sore if it gets knocked after 2 months.

Visually, my ears looked red and sore and I couldn’t tuck my hair behind my ears for about 3 weeks. Overall, I’m happy that I got the procedure, although it didn’t reach my expectations, which were probably unrealistic. I think if I was doing it again, I would have gone for a second opinion with another plastic surgeon to ask about different options. Another £150 would have been worth it at that stage to make the right decision.
London Plastic Surgeon

Very nice and warm person. Really put me at my ease and took the time to go through different options, and reflect on those options as we went along. Looking back, I think he was quite persuasive, and I am not 100% sure that he had my best interests at heart - he just wanted to do lots of earfold operations as they are quick and easy. However, it's only 24 hours after the op, and my ears may end up OK once the swelling goes down, so I'm not making any judgements yet.

4 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
3 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
4 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
2 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
2 out of 5 stars Wait times
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