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Darwin’s Tubercle

Darwin’s tubercle is a congenital ear deformity that results in an abnormal prominence, or thickening, along the helical rim. This is typically located at the junction of the middle and upper one-third of helical rim. The abnormality got its name from Charles Darwin who described this finding in his writings as evidence of evolutionary similarities among primates. The abnormal thickening along the helical rim then became more popularly known as Darwin’s tubercle.

In actuallity, there are two main types of thickening that are referenced as a Darwin’s tubercle. One of them involves a cartilage prominence that extends inward toward the face, while the other extends outward away from the ear while forming more of a point. In fact, some people will refer to the latter as Darwin’s point. In our experience, the former is more commonly encountered by patients seeking cosmetic ear surgery, but there are those who present with a mixed appearance of a Darwin’s tubercle.

Darwin’s Tubercle Correction

The surgery to correct a Darwin’s tubercle involves reshaping the helical rim to remove the unwanted, extra segment of cartilage. The steps are shown here visually in an actual Darwin’s tubercle patient of Dr. Hilinski.

First, the cartilage prominence has to be exposed. Normally this can be done by hiding the incision along the inner lining of the helical rim. The excess cartilage that comprises Darwin’s tubercle is easily exposed once the skin is pulled back as is seen in the second photo below. The cartilage is then trimmed carefully. Once the skin is redraped, you can readily see the new shape and contour. The incision is sewn up just like any other surgical cut and heals very nicely with minimal signs of having been there.

Darwin’s Tubercle Before and After

Below you can see the before and after correction of the Darwin’s tubercle. As you can readily appreciate, the excess ear cartilage prominence has been taken away. Whereas he had somewhat of a ‘thickening’ along the helical rim, he now has a much smoother contour. In addition, the ear simply doesn’t look like it sticks out as much as it once did. The outline of the ear now has a straighter, more vertical contour and is less distracting.

Before and After image of Darwin's Tubercle surgery

Darwin’s Tubercle Consult

If you have a Darwin’s tubercle and are bothered by the distracting appearance of your ears, don’t hesitate in contacting Dr. Hilinski today to schedule your personalized consultation. Dr. Hilinski is considered one of the nation’s foremost experts when it comes to repair of Darwin’s tubercle and other cosmetic ear deformities.

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