How durable are the reconstructed ears?

The durability of the reconstructed ears relies upon the materials used for the procedure.

Typically, doctors use the patient’s rib cartilage or artificial, synthetic materials for ear reconstruction. However, nowadays, surgical reconstruction with autologous tissue is the most common method for ear reconstruction.

Ear reconstructions using rib cartilage have been proven to last more than 50 years. Therefore, these types of reconstructed ears do not have restrictions on patient activities. There is also no need for extra protection in contact sports. The durability of artificial ears is likely to be very good, but it is less proven because there is no long-term follow-up beyond 20 years.

An artificial, synthetic ear is a foreign body with the possibility of becoming infected and needing to be removed in the future. Other risks include:

  • septic, bacterial illnesses
  • wounds
  • insect bites

These types of problems over the implant or near it are possible but with very low risk.

Rib cartilage vs. synthetic materials - growth prospects

Ear reconstruction is a form of surgery performed to build or rebuild an ear missing due to a congenital disorder or damage caused by cancer surgery or trauma.

There are two main methods for ear reconstructions that center around the materials used for the ear framework - one uses the patient’s own tissues, and the other uses a framework of synthetic material.

The materials make the difference between the results of these techniques:

  • ears constructed from the patient’s own rib cartilage grow with the patient and retain their form indefinitely
  • ears reconstructed from synthetic materials cannot grow

However, whether the ear grows or not is not important because a normal ear is close to its full, adult size at around 5-6 years of age, which means that an adult size ear can be constructed without worrying about future growth.

The future of ear reconstructions

The next phase of ear reconstruction seems to be the 3D bioprinting techniques to create bio-compatible ear prostheses from human stem cells. The advanced technologies could significantly improve the durability and longevity of the reconstructed ears.

Scientific research is on a promising path but still may turn into reality many years away. The progress in tissue engineering methods holds excellent potential and will have an immense impact in the future when they become part of the common practice.


Disclaimer: We do not assume responsibility for the use of the provided information or its interpretation. Our efforts are towards providing current and reliable information; however these should not be considered, or used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.

Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/