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imageBackground: Classic teaching of ear anatomy in the context of otoplasty states that if the antihelical fold is more prominent than the helical fold after surgery then the ear is “overcorrected.” We set out to explore the role of the antihelix in normal ear anatomy, its relevance to aesthetic perceptions of the ear, and a snapshot of its incidence in nonoperated ears.
Methods: To readily identify junior staff in our department, their color photographs, names, and contact details are posted on every ward. Using digital methods, we cropped the left ear out of the source images, making them unidentifiable. Clinical and nonclinical staff in our unit were asked to choose their favorite and their least favorite ears based on their aesthetic appeal. Responses were tabulated and the 2 most popular ears were compared.
Results: The preferred ear did not conform to the traditional dogma because it had a prominent antihelix and was statistically significant when compared to other choices. We also noted that a prominent antihelix is common among the general population and among colleagues within the department, and hence “normal.” Also interesting was that the helix of the ear chosen as the most aesthetic was also the ear where the helix was almost touching the side of the head.
Conclusions: We found that when judging the aesthetic nature of the “virgin ear, antihelical fold prominence did not appear to be a negative attribute. Indeed, we noted that a prominent antihelix was a common attribute, and we conclude that this was a normal variant without undue negative aesthetic stigma. A surgically corrected ear should not necessarily be regarded as a poor outcome simply on the basis of antihelical prominence. Furthermore, we postulate that patients who have a prominent antihelix might be part of a spectrum of individuals who might have had the subtype of prominent ears featuring a deep conchal bowl. Finally, although not tested directly, it appears that we do not have an idea of our own ear shape, as none of the participants was able to recognize their own ear from the photographs.

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