Will Red Ear Syndrome Adversely Affect Otoplasty Surgery?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I am interested in macrotia ear reduction surgery, in order to vertically reduce the size of my ears, meaning a reduction in both the upper third and the earlobe. (I am not interested in the traditional ear pinning procedure.)

However, I believe I have Red Ear Syndrome (RES), a rare condition where, for unknown reasons, on occasion, one or both of my ears will become red and hot (but not particularly painful). I am concerned with how this may interfere with the macrotia reduction surgery, particularly the recovery. One surgeon I talked to was not concerned. Another stated that if RES is triggered after recovery, it could cause an infection and abnormal scarring. However, because the underlying factors for RES are elusive, it is hard to quantify or predict the likelihood.

Do you have any insight about this? Should I be concerned about how RES may impact my recovery following the macrotia reduction procedure?

A: The question /concern of the potential impact of Red Ear Syndrome on any form of aesthetic ear surgery is a justifiable one given two basic issues. First I would assume that the surgical trauma will cause RES to occur whether during surgery or postop since ear manipulations are known to trigger it.  Whether the duration, intensity or frequency of RES will be less or more after surgery  is completely unknown. Secondly what is the impact of RES in a healing ear? Since RES is an abnormal dilation of the capillaries and has no known association with abnormal inflammatory activity I would speculate that it may not negatively affect healing.

The conclusion is, when you are uncertain how one condition may impact another, you have accept that as another surgical risk factor.

Dr. Barry Eppley

World-Renowned Plastic Surgeon