Otoplasty – Ear Surgery
Ear surgery, or otoplasty, is a cosmetic procedure to improve the appearance of a person’s ears.
Otoplasty typically serves two common functions: setting prominent ears back closer to the head, and reducing the size of large ears. Ear surgery may also be helpful to correct:
- Lop ear (top of the ear folds downward or inward)
- Cupped ear (a small ear),
- Shell ear (no outer curve in the cartilage)
- Large, stretched, or torn earlobes
- Earlobes with large creases and wrinkles
Candidates for Otoplasty
Candidates for otoplasty may be anyone who feels self-conscious about their ears. Although the operation is most often performed on children aged four to fourteen, this procedure can be very beneficial to people of all ages. Ears are almost fully grown by age four, and early surgery can prevent a child from being teased in school.
It is also important that you are in good general health and have realistic expectations about the outcome of the procedure. Discuss your goals of otoplasty with Dr. Perron so that you can achieve the results you desire.
The Otoplasty Procedure
Otoplasty generally lasts one to two hours and is performed on an outpatient basis. The type of anesthesia used typically depends on the age of the patient. General anesthesia is recommended for very young patients, while local anesthesia and a sedative may be used for older children and adults.
The otoplasty procedure begins with a small incision made behind the ear, in the natural crease where the ear meets the head. The cartilage is then sculpted and bent into its new position to achieve the desired appearance. In some types of otoplasty, skin is removed but the cartilage is left in one piece and merely bent back on itself for a smaller-looking ear.
After sculpting the cartilage to the preferred shape, sutures are used to hold the ear in the new position until healing is complete. A bandage is then wrapped around the head to ensure the new positioning. To achieve better balance, both ears may be operated on even if only one has a problem.
Patients of all ages usually feel back to normal after a few hours, although the ears may ache or throb for a few days. Prescription medication will be made available to help alleviate any discomfort.
A day or two after the otoplasty procedure, the bandages around your head can be removed. A new light dressing may be needed. The stitches will be removed if necessary within one week. Otoplasty patients should avoid sleeping on their side until it is comfortable to do so.
It will take only a few days for children to return to school and for adults to be able to return to work and resume normal daily activities. After the ears have healed completely, there will usually be a faint scar on the back of the ears. However, because of the strategic placement of the incisions in ear surgery, the scars should be virtually unnoticeable and will typically fade with time.
Risks and Complications of Otoplasty
As with all surgery, there are risks associated with otoplasty. A small percentage of patients may develop a fluid collection behind the ear. This generally dissolves naturally or can be treated with a needle aspiration. Another potential risk is an infection in the cartilage, which can cause scar tissue to form. This can usually be treated with antibiotics, but may occasionally require surgery. Also, you should not expect your new ears to match exactly; even normal, natural ears are not identical.
Complications are rare and usually minor, and can typically be minimized by carefully following Dr. Perron’s after care instructions.