Risks associated with otoplasty surgery may be grouped into anesthesia risks, and surgical complications. Anesthesia risks are common to any surgery and are discussed elsewhere. Events such as cardiac complications (heart attacks or myocardial infarctions), allergic or anaphylactic reactions, lung-related adverse effects (pulmonary embolism, pneumonia), kidney, liver, or any other organ system problem would all fall under that category. Complications related to the act of surgery may be grouped into risks involved in undergoing any procedure, and risks particular to otoplasty or ear pinning. Risks of any procedure include bleeding or hemorrhage, infection, whether skin, soft tissue, abscess, or necrotizing, acute and chronic pain, and acute or chronic skin sensitivity. Delayed healing is more common is persons with vascular disease and smokers. Fluid collections known as seroma may occur in the dissected space, this typically resolves with fluid drainage. Fine results are anticipated but never guaranteed. Dissatisfaction with the cosmetic outcome of any procedure will require procedural correction.
Complications related to specifically to otoplasty surgery include asymmetry, which may need surgical correction through re-operation, inadequate correction of the protruding ear(s). Contour abnormalities, divots, lumps, bumps, wrinkles may result from otoplasty surgery. When presenting weeks after surgery, irregularities may be a result of internal scarring. They typically resolve without issue, but may need correction in some cases. Recurrence of the prominent ear is probably the most common negative outcome in ear-pinning surgery, the procedure must be repeated along with any modifications to prevent recurrence. Trauma to the operated ear(s) is usually the cause early on, and the operative site(s) must be protected for 6 weeks after surgery to avoid having to re-operate. “Dog ears” are infrequent, typically found at the back of the ear lobe, and may also require secondary correction. Scars are not particular to the otoplasty procedure, but their prominence, or asymmetry if present, may be disturbing. Because the incision is placed behind the ear(s), even if the scar(s) become prominent, one would have to look behind the ear(s) to note them. Although bleeding is not particular to otoplasty it deserves special mention as any un-drained blood under the operated ear skin may lead to significant cartilaginous scarring and overlying skin changes. Blood should be evacuated immediately if accumulated, to prevent this. Infection is not particular to otoplasty surgery either, but its presence also deserves mention because there is a high likelihood of involvement of the ear cartilage, necessitating prolonged, and possibly intravenous antibiotic treatment and possibly surgery. The loss of skin sensation over the back surface of the ear is common, and results from cutting across the nerves that supply that skin, by necessity. It typically resolves totally, but may not.