Ear Shaping / Otoplasty

For many people, the embarrassment of having awkward looking ears that poke outward can result in a loss of confidence in professional and social situations. However, with today’s advances in Ear Surgery, or Otoplasty, plastic surgeons can produce dramatic improvements in the appearance of your ears in just a few short hours.

Many people feel embarrassed about their ears because they believe they are too large. However, in most situations the problem actually is just a matter of the ears sticking out. This problem usually can be solved through surgical techniques that simply pin your ears closer to your head.

The average person’s ears are fully grown by the time they are four, so ear surgery is ideal for children who may encounter teasing from other kids as they begin their socialization process. In fact, most ear surgeries are performed on children ages 4 to 14. Ear surgery can as easily be performed on mature men and women, and having the surgery at an older age poses no additional risks.

Otoplasty is an operation which is done to improve the appearance of the ears. It is most commonly done for protruding ears, often called “lop” ears or “cup” ears. The condition is often quite troubling to children who often take a great deal of kidding from their peers.

The operation is usually done during childhood, and this is ideal since the cartilage is still quite soft and malleable. We generally recommend that the procedure be done shortly before the child enters school. Adults also request this type of surgery having been denied the opportunity to have the deformity corrected during childhood. In these cases, the technique may be modified slightly to allow for softening of the cartilage in addition to reshaping.


Procedure

The otoplasty operation consists of reshaping the cartilage of the ear, occasionally removing some cartilage, and placement of the ears in proper relationship to the face and head. It produces generally good cosmetic results. Even when results are occasionally imperfect, it is usually possible to make revisions successfully.

The operation is carried out under either local or general anesthesia depending on the age and preference of the patient. There is relatively little pain associated with otoplasty and recovery is rapid. The incisions are made behind the ear where they are not noticeable. Absorbable sutures are used, making suture removal unnecessary.

A wraparound bandage is worn for a few days to protect the ears, and is worn at night until healing is complete. Most adult patients can return to work within a few days of surgery and children can return to school within a week. Trauma to the ears must be avoided for several weeks until healing is complete, and so a protective wrap is advisable during vigorous activity for at least three weeks.

Complications are uncommon. The major risk is postoperative bleeding. If this occurs, prompt treatment is required to prevent infection or abnormal scarring which can lead to thickening of the ear. Absolute symmetry of the ears is a goal that is rarely achieved. However, it is natural for the two ears to be slightly different in shape or position. Occasionally, after healing, the position of the ear can change, although the results of surgery are usually permanent.

FAQ

An incision is made behind the ear in the natural crease where the ear and head join. The skin is loosened from thecartilage of the ear. The cartilage is often reshaped with stitches to give a more natural look to the ear.
For one week following the operation, you will wear a protective dressing over your ear(s) to protect the delicate stitches placed during the operation. After one week, you will be back in the office and remove any stitches that were placed.My patients are encouraged to purchase a sports headband and to wear this around the ears at night and while sleeping for four to six weeks following surgery.

If absolutely necessary, you could return to work three to four days after the operation. Because of the protective ear dressing placed during surgery, most patients arrange to have one week off from work or school.

In some situations, particularly for young children, insurance companies may view otoplasty as covered under your policy. Our staff can help you determine this before surgery. If not covered by your insurance carrier, payments can be made prior to surgery.

After your consultation you will leave the office with an easy to understand written quote in which we will list the cost of these three components for your individualized surgical plan. Keep in mind that the facility and anesthesia fees are time-based and so may be increased, or decreased, based on the actual final length of your surgery.

Every type of surgery has risks. It’s my ethical responsibility to educate you on these risks so you can make the best possible decision for yourself while weighing these risks against the benefits of surgery. My training helps me to minimize these risks to the best of my ability, but I cannot eliminate them entirely.

Common risks include infection of stitches. Corrected ears may relax over the first month or two following surgery, so I often over-correct them slightly during surgery.

The risks above are the most common ones that I think you should be aware of, but they are not a complete list of all possible risks.

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