After your child has had ear reconstruction – first stage

You and your child will need to take care of the new ear for several months after the operation to stop it becoming damaged. The following instructions will help reduce the risk:

  • The nurses will usually remove your child's head bandage two to three days after the operation and give his or her hair a wash once the drains have been removed. They will also check both ear and chest wounds as well. The chest dressing may need to be changed before going home. This should then stay in place until the appointment one week later.
  • We will give you an appointment to come back to the dressings clinic for a further wound check one week after going home.
  • If your child's ear is uncomfortable at home, you can give paracetamol according to the instructions on the bottle or packet.
  • Your child should wear clothes that button up the front to avoid pulling clothes over the head and potentially damaging his or her new ear.
  • Your child should avoid sleeping on the reconstructed ear for three months. Pillows can be used to stop your child rolling on to the ear while asleep. It can also help to raise the head of the bed a little so your child is sleeping in a more upright position.
  • Your child is free to have a shower or bath and hair wash once you are at home. However, he or she needs to take care drying the ear to avoid damaging it. We advise using a hairdryer on the cool setting to dry the ear rather than rubbing it.
  • If you notice any signs of infection, such as heat, redness, swelling or discharge from the ear, please contact us straightaway.
  • If you see any signs of exposed cartilage (whitish in colour) or wires (silver), please contact us immediately.
  • Any pain in the chest area should improve over time.
  • Wearing glasses can damage the new ear, so we suggest that you take the glasses to an optician to have them altered so that the arm does not rest on your child's new ear. It is often easier just to remove the relevant arm of the glasses until the ear heals. If your child has had both ears reconstructed, the optician should be able to fix the glasses on to a soft head band.
  • Your child should be able to return to school after the dressings clinic appointment but there will be some restrictions on activities for a few weeks: 
    • start school a little later than usual and finish earlier - to avoid knocks and bumps from crowds
    • no PE for one month
    • no swimming for six weeks
    • no contact sports for three months
  • Please make sure that the ear is gently cleaned with a cotton bud to prevent a build up of shampoo and dead skin. You should start this about a month after the operation.
  • We realise that it can feel strange to have a new ear so we advise that your child gets used to looking in the mirror regularly. Touching the ear gently can also help your child get used to the new ear and also helps de-sensitise the skin.
  • Operation sites can become damaged in the sun, so ensure that your child wears a wide-brimmed sunhat and stays out of direct sunlight where possible for several months after the operation.
  • We will arrange another outpatient appointment for three months after the operation.

You should call the ward if:

  • Your child is in a lot of pain and pain relief does not seem to help.
  • Your child has a temperature of 38°C or higher and pain relief does not bring it down.
  • Your child is not drinking any fluids.
  • The operation site is red or inflamed, and feels hotter than the surrounding skin.
  • You can see cartilage or wires.
  • There is any oozing or bleeding from the operation site.
Compiled by: 
The Plastic Surgery department and Peter Pan Ward in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group This information does not constitute health or medical advice and will not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals.
Last review date: 
October 2009
Ref: 
09F0454

Disclaimer

Please note this is a generic GOSH information sheet. If you have specific questions about how this relates to your child, please ask your doctor. Please note this information may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals.