What is otoplasty?
Prominent ears are a common issue that affect many children and adults. Otoplasty is a surgical procedure designed to address the size, shape, and/or proportion of the outer ear. This can help to restore balance to the face and eliminate a dominating character of the ears.
Who is a candidate for otoplasty?
Any person who is self-conscious about the appearance of their protruding ears may be a candidate for the procedure. This often becomes problematic during elementary school when children are old enough to be cognitive of their appearance. This is often the time when children experience teasing, which can create emotional distress. The surgery can be done any time after 4-5 years of age when the external ear has matured sufficiently.
What does otoplasty involve?
There may be several anatomical issues contributing to the enlarged, protruding nature of the ears. The surgical procedure is customized to each individual case. Otoplasty in children is done under general anesthesia, while adults frequently have it done with mild sedation and local anesthesia. Most surgeries involve an incision that hides in the crease behind the ear(s) and subsequent reshaping and pinning of the cartilage to a more desired position. In some cases a small amount of skin from behind the ear may be excised. The incision is then closed meticulously and the ears bandaged.
What is the recovery like?
After the surgery the ears are bandaged carefully for 1-2 days. At the first follow-up the dressing is taken down and the ears inspected carefully. A home pressure dressing is then worn for the next 7 days. After that point, the patient will still sleep with a head band for the next several weeks to provide comfort and protect the ears at night while sleeping. There will be mild bruising and swelling over the first week, but improves quickly after. Contact sports and strenuous activity are generally avoided for 3 weeks after surgery to allow adequate healing time. Pain and discomfort are usually mild and well-controlled with pain medication if needed. All patients are placed on antibiotics for a short time after surgery to prevent an infection.