Pro surfer Conner Coffin has had major issues with his ears since his early 20s. After a lifetime of growing up surfing in cold water, he’d developed the dreaded Surfer’s Ear - bone growth that traps water, impacts hearing and increases the risk of recurring infections.
Rather than go into surgery, he opted to manage the condition through using Surf|Ears ear plugs instead. Now years later, he’s gone back to Dr Douglas Hetzler, the GOAT of surfer’s ear surgery, to see if the plugs have actually worked. The verdict is in: “My sense is that he hasn’t really progressed too much over the several years between our two examinations,” reports Dr Hetzler. “In cold water, warm water, I think he’s pretty good at wearing ear plugs. If he keeps doing it, he may just do fine and have nothing progress and not need any further treatment.”
To check out the full story of Conner’s journey and what surfer’s ear actually is, watch this epic little docu-clip.
“Because I’ve really been diligent about making an effort to wear plugs, it’s cool to see that it’s been working,” adds Conner. “Learning about the surgery, I’m like, damn, I really don’t want to do that! The time out of the water and the pain and the recovery. It sounds sort of miserable.”
Dr Hetzler has spearheaded a much better technique for surfer’s ear surgery than the old ‘cut n peel off your ear, then drill’ option from decades past. After becoming concerned with the potential risks, he teamed up with two other doctors from California to develop a more refined chisel option that can be done directly through the ear canal. The technique reduces the risk of hearing loss from the noise of the drill, while also reducing recovery time to weeks instead of months.
Still, weeks on end out of the water isn’t exactly appealing to any surfer. So, better to manage things, or prevent growth altogether. “As a professional surfer my gear’s super important to me,” says Conner. “From my boards, my wetsuits, my fins, wax, leashes, everything. It’s been nice to be able to incorporate my Surf|Ears into that and know that I can rely on them when I’m packing up for a trip or a contest.”
Learn more about the best ear protection for surfers: