To quote a little Shakespeare, lend me your ears as we discuss Otoplasty.
It’s a big name for a surgery often all about big ears. The popular cosmetic surgery corrects protruding or deformed ears by fixing abnormalities in the ear structure. It repositions, resizes and/or reshapes the ears. In some cases, otoplasty also goes by the name “ear pinning”.
The surgery is performed on both adults and on children, with kids able to undergo otoplasty as young as 4.
It’s important to realize otoplasty isn’t just for protruding ears. It can also correct problems such as shell ear, lop ear or abnormally large earlobes.
Why would you consider otoplasty? When it comes to overall facial symmetry and aesthetics, a single abnormality can have a dramatic impact on your appearance. Both the size and shape of your ears can either work with your appearance or against it.
One of the greatest benefits to otoplasty is the emotional boost & confidence that comes with an enhanced appearance. When compared with alternative treatments, otoplasty is considered quite safe and is, in fact, one of the safest types of surgeries in existence. Most patients who elect to undergo ear surgery are very happy with their results.
If you have ear abnormalities, you’ve probably faced teasing, ridicule and/or uncomfortable questions about your health & appearance over the years. Ear surgery can end all of that and renew your self-confidence. No more cover ups, hats, or limited hairstyles to hide your ears.
Individual results will highly depend on the skill of the surgeon, but the overall success rate for ear surgery is high.
If you’re interested in otoplasty for yourself or your child, step one is scheduling a consultation with our clinic Medical Director Dr. Sergio Alvarez. You’ll discuss your reasons and goals for otoplasty. Dr. Alvarez will review the surgical options and evaluate the potential patient’s candidacy. This will help you decide whether surgery is a good option for you or your child. This is your opportunity to ask questions, become as knowledgeable and prepared as possible, and establish a trusting relationship with Dr. Alvarez.
Ear surgery is a cosmetic procedure that can alter the proportion, position or size of the ears. It can be extremely effective, but not everyone makes a good candidate.
You should consider undergoing otoplasty if you were born with overly small or large ears, or ears with significant cosmetic deformities. An ideal candidate should have ears that prominently stick out or suffer some kind of deformity. You could be a good candidate for ear surgery if your ears are offset or disproportionate to your head. Another type of good candidate is someone who suffered an injury that negatively affected the positioning or shape of the ears.
And as with virtually any surgery, ideal candidates for otoplasty should be in good health, entertain realistic expectations and have a positive attitude.
Although the exact surgical technique Dr. Alvarez uses will depend on several factors, the basics of the procedure remain the same. In most cases, the surgery is performed while the patient is under general anesthesia. When ear surgery is performed on children, the ear cartilage is very soft so contouring can be performed with splints. Adults have much harder cartilage, so the procedure will consist of repositioning or removing cartilage through a small incision in the ear.
Depending on your desired changes and unique anatomy, your mia Aesthetics surgeon may decide to make an incision hidden behind the ear. During the procedure, extra soft tissue or cartilage that causes the ear to stick out can be removed.
If the ear is missing its normal folds, Dr. Alvarez can shape the cartilage and create these folds. In many situations, the folds can be created with permanent sutures, or the cartilage can be contoured through targeted scraping. Depending on the desired result and the initial complications, Dr. Alvarez might use multiple techniques.
During a basic procedure, the steps are simple: First, incisions are made in the ear and used to remove extra fat and skin. Second, the cartilage is contoured and positioned for optimal aesthetics. Third, the incisions are closed with stitches.
Bandages are placed around the head after surgery to keep the ears in place, protect them, and help them heal. The initial bandage will typically get swapped out with a lighter bandage within a few days. Patients should keep the head elevated for the first few days and rest as much as possible. Any discomfort can be well-controlled by prescribed medication. There will be some swelling, which will recede over the next weeks and months. Most patients can go back to work or school in a week or two, gradually resuming normal activities.
Choosing the Right Surgeon
When choosing a plastic surgeon, whether for yourself or for your child, it is vital to find a doctor you can trust, who understands your goals, who answers your questions fully. Choose an experienced, compassionate provider who you believe can help you reach your surgical goals. We recommend you meet with several surgeons before making your decision and thoroughly research your candidates.
How long will the procedure last?
Otoplasty can take anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours. The length of each procedure depends on several factors, including the complexity of the ear abnormalities.
What can I expect after the procedure?
After surgery, most patients experience minimal pain and bruising. It can take as long as two weeks for the majority of the swelling to subside. However, the areas around the incisions can remain sensitive for as long as three weeks.
In most cases, the pressure dressing can be removed after about seven days. Some patients experience numbness in the ears for up to three months after the surgery, but you should regain sensation in your ears over this time.
Numbness is actually the main reason most patients experience virtually no pain during ear surgery and the reason ear surgery is well-tolerated by children.
Are there risks?
Although ear surgery is viewed as one of the safest procedures in the medical field, any surgery involves some degree of risk. In otoplasty, risks include scarring, bleeding, infection, allergic reactions, adverse reaction to anesthesia, damage to underlying structures, changes in sensation, and unsatisfactory aesthetic results.
After surgery, it’s perfectly normal for ears to swell and feel very tender. Redness around the incisions for a while is also common.
How soon can I return to work?
The amount of time needed for proper recovery is different for every patient, but you can expect to return to work after about a week. However, you’ll want to take it easy and stick with low-intensity activities for several weeks following surgery to promote faster, safer healing.
Is otoplasty really safe for my child?
Otoplasty is considered extremely safe and gets routinely performed on children as young as 4 or 5. It stands to benefit their self-esteem and avoid the psychological trauma of teasing or bullying as they grow up. Signs your child is developing sensitivity about their ears may be reflected in a boy’s refusal to cut his hair short or a girl’s refusal to wear her hair up in a ponytail. Parents will be comforted to know children typically bounce back quickly from otoplasty to resume their normal activities.