Having large, prominent ears can be embarrassing for both adults and children. Children born with this condition are often the subjects of jokes and ridicule, which can lead to poor school adaptation and problems with self-esteem. Otoplasty is a procedure that corrects prominent ears by reshaping the ears so that they are closer to the head.
Otoplasty can be performed on children and adults. For children, surgery is usually delayed until the ears have reached their full size, which occurs around six years of age. Although adults can have otoplasty at any time, most choose to do so early in their adult life – their 20′s or 30′s.
The initial consultation will begin at our cosmetic surgery office in St. Louis, Missouri, with a complete medical history and exam. You should tell Dr. Jones if you or your child has any hearing problems, other congenital deformities or history of scarring problems, such as “keloids.” Both ears will be examined. In certain situations, further hearing evaluation may be ordered. Click here to Request Your Consultation at Genesis Cosmetic Surgery and Laser Center.
You may be asked to look into a mirror and point out what you would like to see improved. You should be very frank in discussing what you hope to achieve with surgery. This will help us understand your expectations and determine whether they can realistically be achieved. Other options available to you will be discussed along with risks and limitations.
What are some of the most common benefits of this procedure?
Most people are extremely pleased with the results of cosmetic ear surgery. By simply making the ears less noticeable, otoplasty can often dramatically change a person’s self-confidence and self-esteem.
The location where the surgery will take place, the estimated duration of the procedure, the type of anesthesia required and the costs of the surgery will be explained. Photographs will be taken and can be viewed with the computer imaging system if appropriate. “Before and after” photographs of patients will be available for your review.
Children born with prominent ears may try using a special mold to reshape the ear non-surgically. These devices need to be used very early after birth to be at all successful. Other alternatives include wearing a headband or camouflaging the ears with long hair or accepting the ears with their protruding shape.
Cosmetic ear surgery is one of the most common cosmetic procedures in children. Every year, many people successfully undergo otoplasty and experience no major problems. However, anyone undergoing any type of surgery must be aware of both the benefits and the risks.
As with any surgical procedures, there are risks of bleeding and infection. Both of these complications are infrequent. Other potential complications include contour irregularities, less than perfect correction of each ear, an extruded permanent stitch, a collection of blood under the skin (hematoma), or a prominence or firmness of the scar on the back of the ear (known as a keloid). The details and frequency of occurrence of these potential problems are best discussed with Dr. Jones in person. You can help minimize certain risks by following the advice and instructions of the doctors, both before and after your cosmetic ear surgery.
Cosmetic ear surgery may be performed safely in an office-based surgical suite, an outpatient surgery center or a hospital. The surgery can be performed under general anesthesia-in which case you are completely asleep-or local anesthesia with sedation, in which case you remain awake, but drowsy and relaxed. You will not feel pain, but you may notice some gentle tugging. Otoplasty on children is performed in the hospital under general anesthesia.
Incisions for otoplasty are usually placed on the backside of the ear. Otoplasty involves cutting and/or reshaping the ear cartilage to create the normal folds and curves and maintaining the new contour with permanent sutures in the cartilage. Otoplasty takes one to two hours per ear. Generally, patients return home after the procedure. If other procedures are combined and the surgery time lasts longer than five hours, we usually recommend that you stay overnight.
A bandage and a protective splint are placed over the ears and remain in place for two to three days. Following removal of the dressing, you can shower and shampoo your hair. The headband or the protective splint is worn at night for three weeks. Pain medicine is prescribed for postoperative pain control. The need for pain medication decreases considerably after three to four days. You should keep your head elevated 45 degrees for the first three days to help relieve the swelling. Cold compresses used 10 minutes every hour while awake for the first three days will help reduce swelling. Avoid a heavy compress. A Ziploc bag filled with frozen peas works well. In addition, Dr. Jones will prescribe supplements that will help minimize the bruising and swelling. There will be bruising and swelling around the ears, which will start to improve after three days. The fine stitches will dissolve or be removed five to seven days after surgery. Most people will face the public in a week to 10 days. Otoplasty does not affect the hearing.
You may resume non-strenuous activities within the first week. You should avoid straining, bending and lifting during the early postoperative period, the first seven to 10 days. You will be advised to wait two to three weeks before resuming strenuous activity and exercise.
You should temporarily avoid exposure to direct sunlight and, for the long-term, be conscientious about the use of a sunblock to protect your skin.
Most patients are very pleased with their new appearance. Since the healing process is gradual, you should expect to wait at least several weeks to get an accurate picture of the results of your ear surgery. Swelling, tenderness and incisions will improve over a number of months.
The results of cosmetic ear surgery are permanent. However, bending the ears forward in the first few months after surgery can disrupt the internal sutures and necessitate revision surgery. Because of the natural elastic recoil of ear cartilage, there may be a small amount of “springing back” of the ears, but not a significant amount to require additional surgery, and revision or touch-up surgery is infrequent.