What is earFoldTM?
EarFoldTM is a new, minimally invasive implant developed to reshape the cartilage of ears to create a fold and correct prominent ears. It is a very thin, curved metal implant made of nitinol (nickel and titanium) and plated with 24 carat gold. It is an alternative to traditional otoplasty surgery for some patients.
What are the advantages of earFoldTM over standard otoplasty surgery techniques?
EarFoldTM is placed through smaller incisions and is a much quicker procedure than standard otoplasty techniques. It will leave a much smaller scar that is usually barely noticeable. It is usually very well tolerated under local anaesthetic and because it is less invasive surgery, there is less swelling and bruising afterwards.
You are able to see how much correction and change earFoldTM can do for your ears beforehand as preFold sizers will be used during your preoperative consultations to determine where the implants will be placed and how many implants will be used.
Who is suitable for earFoldTM?
Patients wishing for correction of prominent ears, who are aged over 7 years of age and whose ear prominence is primarily or mostly due to a poorly formed antihelical fold (the fold of the ear that sits just inside the outer rim of the ear), may be suitable candidates for earFoldTM.
What will happen at the preoperative consultation?
During your preoperative consultations, your suitability for an earFoldTM procedure will be determined. Ms Nugent will take details of why you wish to change your ears, the changes that you wish to make and details of your general medical health, medications and allergies as well as your history of scarring and smoking. She will examine both of your ears and then explain your options to you.
If she determines that you are suitable for earFoldTM implants instead of otoplasty surgery, Ms Nugent will then use preFold implant postitioners to determine positioning of permanent implant placement and the number of implants required. These are small curved pieces of metal of the same size and shape as the permanent earFoldTM implant. They are placed on your ear(s) to create the antihelical fold and determine the degree of correction that earFoldTM will offer you. You will be able to view the placement and adjustment of the preFold positioners during the consultation. Photographs (with your written consent) will be taken of your ears from several angles both before the preFold positioners are placed and once the optimal position and number of implants are determined. These photographs form part of your medical record and are used for planning your surgery and monitoring your results.
Usually one earFoldTM implant is used per ear but about 25% of people have two implants per ear placed and very occasionally three implants per ear are used.
PreFold positioners in postition on an ear preoperatively
What will happen during the procedure itself?
EarFoldTM is carried out under local anaesthetic. When you arrive at the clinic, a nurse will go over routine preoperative checks with you. Ms Nugent will then see you and go through a consent form with you.
After this, Ms Nugent will again place the preFold positioners on your ears in the locations agreed upon at your preoperative consultations. You will be asked to check this in a mirror. Once these checks are done, further photographs may be taken. The position of the implants will be marked and the preFold positioners will be removed.
Your ears will then be numbed with local anaesthetic injections. Your ears will be carefully cleaned and sterile drapes placed. Ms Nugent will then perform the procedure through small incisions (
The procedure takes between 20 and 45 minutes to perform depending on the number of earFoldTM implants to be placed.
How should I look after my ears after earFoldTM?
What should I expect after earFoldTM?
You will have some soreness and discomfort afterwards as with any surgical procedure. This is usually manageable with regular painkillers as described above. There will be some swelling and bruising of your ears around the implants. This is usually not excessive and will settle over time. There may be a small amount of ooze from the incision sites over the first few days – again this should not be excessive and will settle. There will be some sensitivity around the implant for a while until the tissues settle.
When will I be seen afterwards and how often?
You will be seen by a nurse at 1 week for a wound review and by Ms Nugent at 2 weeks, 6 weeks and 1 year following your procedure. Of course, if you need to be seen at a different time because of a concern, an additional review will be arranged.
Does the earFoldTM implant need to be removed in the future?
No, the earFoldTM is a permanent implant. It can be removed if necessary in the future but no removal is planned.
What are the potential risks and complications of the earFoldTM procedure?
In general, there is a very low rate of problems after earFoldTM implant placement. But as with any surgical procedure, there are some potential risks.