After your child has had ear reconstruction – second stage

Your child will be able to go home once the drain has been removed, usually the day after the operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). 

The head bandage and the ribcage dressing will both be checked before you go home. Your child's ear will need to be looked after carefully for another few months after the operation. The following instructions will help you:

  • We will give you an appointment to come back to the dressings clinic to have both operation sites checked about one week after going home.
  • Your child is free to have a hair wash once the dressings have been removed. As before, 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.
  • Clean around the ear and behind it with a cotton bud to stop any build up of shampoo or dead skin. The graft site will also need cleaning to keep it free from scabs. When your child is washing his or her hair, we suggest brushing the area gently with a baby hairbrush. If the area develops scabs, these can be gently softened with baby oil or olive oil. You should also try to keep your child's hair away from the healing area of skin too, although we realise that this may be difficult at school.
  • Your child might find it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position for the first few days, so might need some extra pillows to sleep in a more upright position. He or she should avoid lying on his or her new ear for three months after the operation. Pillows can be used to stop your child rolling on to the ear while asleep.
  • 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.
  • Wearing glasses can damage the new ear, so we suggest that you take them 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.
  • 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. You should also apply some sun block cream (SPF 25 or more) to prevent any sun damage. If your child's operation occurred during the winter months, keep the ear warm as this will help the graft to heal.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Last review date: 
February 2014
Ref: 
2013F0462

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.