Bumpy deformation of the ear cartilage is referred to as ‘cauliflower ear’ due to its resemblance to the white, lumpy vegetable. Cauliflower ear is most commonly associated with boxers and other contact sport athletes since this deformity is usually caused by direct trauma to the ear. There are treatment options to prevent the formation of cauliflower ear, as well as cosmetic surgery to restore a more pleasant ear shape.
What Causes Cauliflower Ear?
The bumpy appearance of cauliflower ear is the formation of scar tissue. This can occur due to lack of blood flow to the cartilage in the ear. Most often, this is caused by blunt trauma or the skin is removed from over the cartilage. A hematoma can occur that blocks blood flow and allows the scar tissue to form.
The best option is to prevent cauliflower ear. Ear protection when playing contact sports can prevent injury. If an injury to the ear does occur from trauma or an infection from a piercing, draining the blood to prevent clotting can prevent a hematoma. Icing the ear and applying pressure can also help. However, if scar tissue forms creating the cauliflower appearance, the only treatment option is cosmetic surgery.
Otoplasty for Cauliflower Ear
Once the bumpy scar tissue forms, the only option to reverse the damage is plastic surgery. Otoplasty can be used to remove the scar tissue or reshape the ear if necessary. This should be performed by an experienced facial plastic surgeon that specializes in otoplasty for the best results.
Cauliflower ear is not dangerous, but it can be embarrassing or affect a person’s confidence in their appearance. Prevention is best, but plastic surgery is an option to correct cauliflower ear for aesthetic purposes.
Posted on behalf of:
Maurice M. Khosh, MD, FACS
580 Park Avenue, Suite 1BE
New York, NY 10065