Sail ears - causes and treatment

In the vernacular, sailing ears refer to protruding ears. In medical terms, this type of otostasis is present if either one or both of the auricles protrude more than 30 degrees or more than 20 mm from the head. It is not a disease, but an inheritance that is considered a blemish. The ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tiutenchamun, Prince Charles, Barack Obama, actors Dominique Horwitz and Sophie Marceau are famous for their sailing ears. The actress Jutta Speidel also had protruding ears as a child, but had them corrected at the age of 18.

Cosmetic operations

Adjusting protruding ears is one of the 15 most common cosmetic surgeries. The health insurance companies usually cover the costs for children, adults usually have to pay the 1500-2500 euros for the procedure themselves.

Parents usually choose this procedure with their children because their classmates tease the children as "Prince Segelohr", "Dumbo" or "Elefantomas", or because the parents fear this.

Young adults who would like to have surgery as children but whose parents do not support them are also a main group. Older people are much less likely to have their ears corrected.

An objective measure?

An angle of more than 30 degrees is a guideline for sail ears, but since protruding ears are not a disease and the affected person is not physically impaired, there is no objective measure.

Rather, the subjective feeling of the patient is decisive. At an angle of 40 degrees, someone obviously looks different from the "normal". If he or she is also teased and suffers psychologically from his minor deformity, according to ENT doctors, then surgery is recommended.

With slightly protruding ears, on the other hand, serious doctors check exactly what the problem is. Such cosmetic surgery often hides deep-seated psychological complaints. These can be parents who want a perfect child in every respect and who not only force the pitiful minors through tutoring courses, piano lessons and brain training, but also want to align them visually to the demands of late capitalism.

But they can also be people who are generally dissatisfied with themselves and the world, feel guilty or self-hatred and desperately try to get this negative self-image under control through external corrections. In such cases, it is not ear surgery, but psychotherapy that is the order of the day.

Many doctors refuse to turn their ears if the child doesn't bother but the parents put pressure on them. If other children tease the "sail ear" in kindergarten, then an operation should be carried out before school starts.

Health insurance companies check whether there is a psychological impairment and have this checked by a psychological expert in an emergency.

Sail ear surgery

Several interventions are possible, depending on the cause of the sail ears. Either the inner ear cartilage is strongly shell-shaped, or the fold in the cartilage behind the ear is not curved.

If the inner ear cartilage is too shell-shaped, the cartilage can be thinned to straighten the ear. If the bending fold is too straight, incisions can correct the cartilage. The doctor must fix these with threads, otherwise the ear will bend back into the old position.

The doctors prepare the ear cartilage via an incision on the back of the ear. Then it can be easily bent into the desired position. Now the doctors fix the ear with threads and fold the ear cups towards the head.

But ears can also be put on today without cutting into the skin. The doctors then pierce the skin with needlesticks to make it pliable. So bruises or purulent abscesses behind the ear are almost impossible.

The doctors anchor and tie a thread in the front of the auricle cavity and on the temporal bone behind the ear; Both points are drawn together and the ear cup approaches the temporal bone. The doctors specifically create wound areas behind the ear. When these grow together, the ear grows into the new position.

The operation is performed in children under general anesthesia in adults. After the operation, the patient wears a head bandage for seven days, after which the stitches are pulled and those affected can also wash their hair again.

However, you should avoid injuries because the ear snaps off for at least six weeks. For this, the surgeons wear a headband that protects the ears when sleeping.

The "normal" ear

The outer ear is a cartilage over which skin grows. This skin can be moved a little on the back, on the front it has grown together with the cartilage. Both the back and front show indentations and bulges.

Auricle with an inclination of up to 20 degrees to the rear, an ear cup that is about half as wide as long, an edge of the ear cup that is no further than 2 cm from the head, earlobes that face the anthelix fold are considered to be aesthetically normal lying in parallel, an earlobe that joins the neck skin at an acute angle.

When should sail ears be operated on?

Ear cups can be aimed from the age of six. Then the cartilage is sufficiently firm and the ear hardly changes. Surgery should only be carried out if a child has an ear shape and wishes to have surgery. Without suffering, this operation, which is not medically necessary, is neither legally permitted nor ethically legitimate surgeons.

Otolaryngologists can operate as well as plastic surgeons and oral and maxillofacial surgeons.

Problems with sail ears

Correcting protruding ears is a simple operation that usually goes without complications. In all operations, however, it can lead to wound infections, bleeding, bruising and pain. Some patients also cannot tolerate the sutures.

As a rule, the wounds heal completely in one to two weeks, and patients who have undergone such an ear operation usually report psychological relief.

Living with the little difference

Those affected who have not undergone surgery, on the other hand, report on how they strengthened their self-confidence. One writes in an Internet forum: “In the past everyone called me Feivel (an animation mouse), they thought it was totally funny; it totally unsettled me until the day I started laughing and joking about it. then it suddenly stopped. An op should always be the emergency solution (of course, depending on how much it affects you mentally).

An Almas writes: “I also have slightly protruding ears. When I was younger I even wanted to get them on. the health insurance would also have covered the costs. But if you want that, prepare for a marathon. For the assumption of costs, you have to prove that it restricts you and puts you under psychological strain.

You can get this proof from a psychologist. Not only would my ears have been put on, but the upper part would also have been rolled up a bit. At least that was what the surgeon explained and illustrated to me at the time. In retrospect, I'm really glad I didn't. I got used to my ears and think: Such flaws make a person. ”(Dr. Utz Anhalt)

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