Ear Surgery Side Effects and Risks

Last Updated: April 20, 2012

Side Effects and Risks

Side Effects

Ear surgery side effects and risks are the unwanted but usually mild and temporary effects of a successful procedure. Examples might include feeling sick after the general anesthetic or painkillers, though medicines are available to help avoid this. Also, there are more common side effects of ear surgery.

  • The ears are likely to ache for the first few days after the procedure and will probably be tender for several weeks.
  • The ears may feel a little numb after the operation but this usually settles within a few weeks.
  • The procedure will leave a scar behind the ear that should fade over time.

Complications

Complications are unexpected problems that can occur during and after the surgery. Most people are not affected. The primary complications of any surgery are bleeding
during or soon after the procedure, an abnormal reaction to the anesthetic or developing a blood clot, usually in a vein in the leg (deep vein thrombosis).

Further treatment may be required, such as further surgery to stop bleeding or antibiotics to deal with an infection.

Specific complications of ear surgery are uncommon but can include:

  • An infection in the wound that may make the ear swollen and weepy - this would normally be treated with antibiotics and regular dressing changes, but in rare cases further surgery may be needed to drain the infected area
  • A blood clot in the skin of the ear, which may dissolve naturally or may need to be drawn out with a needle
  • Some loss of skin from the area, which may need a later skin graft - this is very rare
  • The development of unusually red or raised scars which some people have a genetic tendency to.
  • Asymmetrical ear position - in a few cases further surgery may be necessary to readjust the ears

The chance of complications depends on the exact type of procedure that is being performed and other factors such as the person's general health. The surgeon will be able to explain how the risks apply in each individual case.

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