Background: The ear serves many functional and aesthetic purposes, and its complex structure presents a notable challenge for reconstruction. A paucity of objective data and analysis on reconstruction of acquired ear defects remains. The goal of this study was to evaluate all ear reconstructions and the lessons learned over the past decades in treating these complicated defects in a large clinical Mohs reconstruction practice. Methods: A retrospective analysis of consecutive patients who underwent ear reconstruction after Mohs cancer excision from 2004 to 2018 performed by the senior author (J.F.T) was conducted. Data regarding patient demographics, oncologic type, treatment, defect characteristics, reconstructive modalities, number of stages, and complications were collected and analyzed. Results: Three hundred twenty-seven patients underwent ear reconstruction. Defects most commonly involved the superior one-third of the helix and the antihelix. Approximately half of the patients' defects were reconstructed with full-thickness skin grafts, and approximately one-third of the patients' defects required flap reconstruction. There were 30 complications (9 percent), ranging from partial flap loss to cancer recurrence. There was no difference in complication rates in elderly patients compared with the younger cohort. Conclusions: Optimizing results when reconstructing ear defects is challenging, and there are multiple preoperative variables to consider. Ear reconstruction is safe in an outpatient setting, and age should not preclude patients from undergoing reconstruction of ear defects. The lessons learned from the past decade of ear reconstructions are demonstrated, and an algorithmic approach to treating these defects allows for a safe and reproducible method for reconstructing acquired ear defects. CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic, IV.
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