Surfer's Ear, or "diffuse exostosis", is NOT the same thing as the more common "swimmer's ear".   Swimmers Ear is a totally different and treatable condition (see our FAQ page for a comparison of the two).

What we're covering on this page is Surfer's Ear, a condition where the ear canal is narrowed by the growth of bone due to contact with water and/or air that cause cool temperatures in the ear canal.   The bone growth can, at the extreme, cause deafness, whereas earlier stages can create a barrier for trapping water and debris and heighten the risk of infection. 

Once you have this condition, it is not reversible other than by surgical methods  Prevention is the best way to go - so use your earplugs!.

The Surgery
Surgical methods include either using a drill to remove the bone, and the surgeon may approach the area directly via the ear canal or by making an incision behind the ear and dissecting the ear forward (yes, basically cutting off the ear)

Here are some links to images people have posted, in case you're not freaked out already [ image 1 | image 2 | image 3 | image 4 ].

Another method is to use a chisel to remove the obstructing bone and enter directly through the ear canal.

Recovery can take from several weeks to several months - depending on the condition of the ear canal and the surgical technique used.

Below are some videos on this condition and the surgical procedures to repair

Other articles and links on this subject