Dr Hamish Sillars | F.R.A.C.S

Surfers Ear

Are you exploring Auckland Ear Surgeon options?

Dr Sillars has NZ’s most extensive experience in successfully treating Exostoses – commonly known as ‘Surfer’s Ear’ or External Auditory Canal Exostoses (EACE).

Using a revolutionary canalplasty “super’ technique which he introduced to NZ and to Ear Surgeons elsewhere in the country, Dr Sillars has personally surgically undertaken more than 1000 cases with consistently excellent results.

surfers ear

What is Surfers Ear/Exostoses?

External Auditory Canal Exostoses (EACE) is a condition also known as Surfer’s Ear. Common in countries such as New Zealand, Australia and the West Coast of the United States of America, it is frequently found in surfers who spend many hours in, in particular, cold seawater.

Exostoses are diagnosed when the ear canal narrows progressively over time due to nodules which then become masses of new bone growth. These growths result in large bulges that restrict and at times prevent the draining of water from the ear canal.

Increased and frequent exposure to cold water accelerates this bone growth. Over time, the canal may even close off completely, resulting in persistent ear infections, and partial or full-hearing loss in the affected ear.

Infections can also occur when moisture is trapped behind the new bony growths, allowing bacteria or fungi to grow.

A male surfer rides the waves in the sea on a surfboard in a wet

Symptoms of Surfers Ear

At my Auckland clinic, patients with Surfer’s Ear present with a range of symptoms generally due to the varying degree of blockage that they are suffering from.

Patients may find that water gets easily trapped in their ear when they bathe or swim, afterwhich vigorous head shaking is necessary to dislodge the moisture, or they may constantly feel that the ear is ‘full’ . Infection will be most obvious by way of pain, itch or discharge.

Can Surfer’s Ear Cause Deafness?

Partial hearing loss can occur during water trapping or infections, but in particularly severe cases a severe loss can happen in the affected ear due to a complete bony ear canal blockage.

Often a common sign of External Auditory Canal Exostoses (EACE) is from repeated ear infections – caused by water and debris being trapped behind the bone growths.

Causes of Surfers Ear

Surfer’s Ear occurs largely in those people who spend concentrated amounts of time in cold water, particularly surfers in the ocean.

Exposure to cold water without adequate protection accelerates these troublesome bony growths in the ear canals.

Using wetsuit hoods, dive helmets, ear plugs or swimming caps may prevent or slow the progress of Surfer’s Ear, and such protective gear is sometimes recommended after External Auditory Exostosis (EAE) surgery to prevent the reformation of blockages. Dr Sillars more encompassing technique however often sees no such following need for plugs or caps



Call — 09 925 4060