Otoplasty, is a facial plastic surgical procedure designed to enhance the aesthetic appearance of the ears. Often patients who need otoplasty are children with large protruding ears, but sometimes adults are bothered by their ear position and contour and undergo otoplasty. Otoplasty is more than simply “pinning” the ears back. Precise suturing of the ears is essential to gain the contours that are often missing in protruding ears, and exact removal of cartilage can be necessary to achieve symmetry, and maintain a natural position and shape to the ears.
Otoplasty can be performed under local anesthesia, sedation or a general anesthetic dependent on the age and comfort of the patient. The incisions for otoplasty are hidden behind the ears, and the cartilage is reshaped as necessary. Once the ears are repositioned, the incisions are sutured closed and a light compressive dressing is applied. Otoplasty is an outpatient procedure and patients are able to go home the same day.
The morning after the surgery, board-certified facial plastic surgeon Scott Shadfar, MD will see the patient in clinic and check all incisions, remove the head wrap and go over all wound care measures. Swelling and bruising can be seen, however only mild pain or soreness is associated with Otoplasty. The sutures are removed on day 7 after the surgery, and an elastic headband is worn at all times over the ears for the next week. During the next month the headband is only worn at night to protect the ears while sleeping. Patients usually have minimal downtime of 1-2 weeks before returning to work, and we ask those patients traveling from out of town to stay for routine checks during the first week.
Am I a good candidate for otoplasty?
Candidates for otoplasty typically have prominent ears that protrude far from the head. Newborn children often grow up to have protruding ears if the ears are more than 9mm from the sides of the head. Adults who have the upper portion of the ears protruding more than 20mm from the sides of the head are often ideal candidates for otoplasty. Some people are also born with an irregular shape to the ears, often characterized by conditions such as a constricted or cupped ear, Stahl’s ear, lidding ear, missing antihelical folds, or enlarged conchal bowls. Ear abnormalities occur in approximately 5% of children. Doctors typically encourage parents to wait until their child is at least five years old before choosing to undergo ear surgery because the ears should be at least 90% fully grown by that time; however, otoplasty can be performed for patients of any age.
What are the benefits of ear surgery?
The advantages of ear surgery can relate to boosting ones self-esteem as well as the aesthetic implications. Some of the many potential benefits of otoplasty include:
- Repositioned ears closer to the head
- Reshaped ears for a more balanced, symmetrical appearance
- Reduced overall size of the ears
- Enhanced facial harmony
- Improved confidence and self-esteem
Young children may feel particularly uncomfortable with the appearance of their ears. The aesthetic effects of otoplasty early in life can be very helpful with avoiding embarrassment or self-consciousness during school or other social activities.
Is surgery necessary?
Otoplasty is considered an elective surgery, as there are no health concerns associated with prominent or irregularly-shaped ears. Unfortunately, many children with ear abnormalities experience teasing and embarrassment from their peers. In some cases, the psychological ramifications of these childhood experiences may lead to poor academic performance, social anxiety, or aggressive behavior. Otoplasty surgery is a way to address a variety of concerns with long-lasting, often permanent results.
Is otoplasty painful?
Dr. Shadfar uses the latest surgical technology and techniques to conduct each surgery as safely and efficiently as possible, prioritizing the comfort of the patient. For about a week after the procedure, soreness is common. Over-the-counter pain medication can be used to manage any discomfort.