Otoplasty, also known as cosmetic ear surgery, is a procedure to change the shape, size, or position of the ears. Otoplasty can make a more natural appearance while bringing balance and proportion to the ears and face. Correction of even minor deformities can have profound beneﬁts to appearance and self-esteem.
If your ear or ears are misshapen due to an injury or birth defect or you are bothered by how far your ears stick out from your head, you might choose to have otoplasty. Otoplasty can be done at any age after the ears have reached their full size, usually after age 5, through adulthood. Otoplasty will not alter your ability to hear and it is typically done on both ears to optimize symmetry.
BENEFITS OF OTOPLASTY
- It corrects a number of problems: The most common reason for getting otoplasty is to correct certain issues. Cosmetic and reconstructive ear surgery is utilized in treating a variety of deformities, including folded, cupped, protruding, cauliflower, small, and very large ears.
- It’s a relatively safe procedure: Today, ear surgery is one of the safest kinds of surgeries across the entire medical field. Very few cosmetic surgeries offer the diminished risk that otoplasty provides while giving great results overall.
- Patients can regain their confidence: Studies illustrate that people with unusual-looking ears have considerably lower self-esteem and confidence. When the ears are prominent, imbalanced, or excessively small or large, they’re often a common target of teasing and bullying. Fortunately, otoplasty can permanently correct those issues and renew people’s confidence level.
- It makes people feel normal again: Victims of bullying and teasing will no longer endure being mocked at, and can better focus on school or work. Once the healing process is complete and bandages are removed, many patients feel an intense sense of emotional release and a true sense of normalcy.
WHAT CAN OTOPLASTY TREAT?
- Protruding ears occurring on one or both sides in varying degrees
- Overly large ears, a condition called macrotia
- Ears without folds and creases
- Cup or lop ear
- Adult dissatisfaction with previous ear surgery
WHO IS A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR OTOPLASTY?
People who are good candidates for ear surgery are:
- Healthy individuals without medical conditions that can impair healing or untreated chronic ear infections
- Those with a positive outlook and specific goals in mind for ear surgery
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT?
BEFORE THE PROCEDURE:
Otoplasty begins with a consultation with the cosmetic surgeon. At your consultation, the surgeon will evaluate your health, discuss your medical history, make recommendations, and explain the otoplasty procedure. The exact surgical techniques used to perform otoplasty vary depending on the condition being treated and your desired results. So the surgeon examines the condition, shape, and size of the ears and decide on the best surgical technique to achieve the surgery’s goal.
If you decide to go ahead with the procedure, the surgery will be scheduled and photos will be taken to document the process. You should avoid taking aspirin, ibuprofen, or other anti-inflammatory painkillers for at least two weeks before the surgery takes place. It is also important to follow any other instructions given by the surgeon about preparing for the procedure.
The procedure can be performed either under sedation and local anesthesia or general anesthesia. The surgery will take approximately 2-3 hours. The incision is usually made in the back of the ear where it is not noticeable.
DURING THE PROCEDURE:
Otoplasty generally involves:
- making one small incision behind the ear to expose the ear cartilage
- removing small pieces of cartilage if necessary
- scoring and stitching the remaining structure into the desired shape and position
The surgeon will make an incision on the back of your ear or within the inner creases of your ears. After making incisions, he/she might remove, trim, or cut excess cartilage or skin until the desired shape and size are achieved and then will fold the cartilage into the proper position and secure it with internal stitches. Additional stitches will be used to close the incisions.
AFTER THE PROCEDURE:
After the procedure is complete, bandages will be placed around your head for protection and support. You will likely feel some itching and discomfort so pain medication will be prescribed. You will be given specific instructions that may include how to take care of your ears following surgery, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.
Following the surgeon’s instructions is key to the success of your surgery. It is important that the incisions are not subjected to excessive force, sunlight, or motion during the time of healing.
To keep pressure off your ears, you should avoid sleeping on your side. Please try not to rub or place excessive force on the incisions and consider wearing shirts with loose-fitting collars or button-down shirts.
A few days after otoplasty, the dressings that support the new shape of the ear during initial phases of healing are removed. You will need to wear a loose headband that covers your ears at night for two to six weeks.
Recovery will vary from patient to patient, but most children can go back to school after a week and most adults can return to work within 5-6 days.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF OTOPLASTY?
Possible ear surgery risks include:
- Asymmetry in ear placement
- Problems with stitches
- Changes in skin sensation
- Skin discoloration
- Pain, which may persist
- Possibility of revision surgery