Overly large or protruding ears can be a source of embarrassment for both children and adults.
Visibly prominent ears (caused by malrotation of the concha and/or the underdevelopment of the antihelical fold) can create an unbalanced appearance. While these issues don’t result in any medical concerns, many people feel self-conscious about the placement of their ears due to the unwanted attention they may bring. Otoplasty is the surgical correction of protruding ears by “pinning” them into a more attractive position.
Almost 80 percent of the ear is fully formed by the time a child is four or five years of age. We will typically perform surgery on children in this age range before they enter school but after the ear has developed. Surgery is not recommended for children whose ears have yet to develop fully. Otoplasty may be performed on older kids as well as adults who didn’t receive correction when they were younger. It is necessary that all otoplasty candidates be in good health and have realistic expectations about their results.
The Otoplasty Procedure
Otoplasty is a routine surgery performed on an outpatient basis in under two hours. Patients are placed under sedation or on a light general anesthesia, which is overseen in the OR of a hospital by an MD anesthesiologist.
A small incision is placed behind the ear, and the cartilage is scored to soften it and permit the sutures to contour the ear shape to its new position. This allows us to pull the ear closer to the head. Permanent sutures are used to create the missing fold, and the concha, or cup, is rotated closer to the head. Dissolving sutures are placed to close the incisions.
A light head wrapping is worn for several days after surgery. Initially, you may experience some bruising and swelling around the ears, but this subsides quickly. Once the wrapping is removed, you may shower and wash your hair. After this time, a sports headband is to be worn when sleeping to protect the ears.
Regular activities, except contact sports, can be resumed after a week’s time. For the most part, there is little discomfort associated with otoplasty recovery. Possible complications are minimal and resolve themselves quickly if they do develop.