Ears that are very large or stick out from the sides of the head can be improved to create a more normal ear aesthetic through Otoplasty. Otoplasty, or ear surgery, is a procedure which is generally performed on children in their childhood to early adolescence, but can certainly be performed on adults as well. It is typically performed on the child while they are still young in order to remove the threat of unnecessary years of teasing from other children. The ears are fully developed around the ages of 4 or 5 and are then able to be re-molded to create the desired aesthetic. It is important that the child have the desire to make the change, as they will be more cooperative and enthusiastic about procedure both during process and as they achieve the final outcome.
The procedure, when done on a child, is usually performed under general anesthesia. Older patients may opt for local anesthesia with a sedative. This decision will be made between you and your Plastic Surgeon. The procedure will take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours. There are a couple different techniques used to create the desired aesthetic. A small incision may be made to the back of the ear which will expose the cartilage so that it can be re-sculpted into the desired shape and position. In some cases, a larger piece of the cartilage may be removed to create a more natural-looking fold. In other cases, a similar incision may be made behind the ear and skin is removed. The stitches fold the cartilage onto itself in order to create the desired new shape, instead of taking out any ear cartilage.
The precise step-by-step of the procedure will vary depending on each patients individual needs and desired outcome. Typically, the procedure will leave a slight scar in the back of the ear which will fade in time. The patient will be bandaged and some minor aches and throbbing can be expected in the first few days of healing, but medicine can help relieve any pain. After a few days the inital bandages will be switched out for lighter bandages and the patient will have some activity restrictions to follow as they continue to heal.
Ear surgery can be a wonderful, positive, lift-changing experience for some and can also improve other ear issues like stretched earlobes. As with all surgical procedures, there are risks and it’s important to know them. Good candidates for this procedure are in good health and have realistic expectations. Talk to your Plastic Surgeon to find out if ear surgery is right for you or your child.