PLASTIC surgeons are treating around 200 patients a year who are the victim of alcohol-related bites, new figures show.
Patricia Eadie, a surgeon at St James's Hospital in Dublin, said New Year's Day has been dubbed New Ears Day because of the high number of attacks.
She said the recent incident in which Liverpool footballer Luis Suarez bit Chelsea player Branislav Ivanovic – along with other similar assaults – highlighted the growing number of cases being treated in Irish hospitals by plastic surgeons.
Dr Eadie, president of the Irish Association of Plastic Surgeons (IAPS), added: "The majority of biting incidents in Ireland are booze related.
"Avoid excess alcohol and situations where aggressive behaviour is likely – in order to preserve your nose and ears.
"Bites and biting are no laughing matter. The injuries we see are often truly horrific with entire ears bitten off, noses, finger tips and even lips.
"We can often re-attach a severed fingertip if it has been cut with a clean instrument like a knife." But the nature of a bite means that it is almost always impossible to re-attach the bitten body parts "leaving a very ugly injury".
This could end up costing the Exchequer up to €10,000 to repair as best as possible because treating a bad bite can involve up to four operations in particularly vulnerable and visible areas such as the nose.
Dr Eadie added: "A survey of our members across the country shows that they treat up to 200 biting incidents a year which could be costing the public purse up to €2m a year. There are germs in some human mouths that can cause infections that are hard to treat but the biter can also be infected by his victim's blood.
"Our advice to those affected is to get to hospital as quickly as possible with any body parts they can find, wrapped in a damp cloth."