Cosmetic surgery to correct prominent ears, called “otoplasty,” can be done at any age after five years. By five, the ear cartilage is strong enough to withstand surgery and has reached its adult size. Special suture techniques allow an otoplasty surgeon to reshape the ear cartilage into a natural shape.
Most patients are treated with a head dressing for the first day and then can usually use a head band to keep the ears comfortable for about a week.
Occasionally miner asymmetries can occur and touch up surgery may be required.
Cosmetic Surgery: Otoplasty
Ears that stick out can be a source of teasing to a child as early as school age. Even with age, large ears or malshaped ears that pained us during childhood can cause feelings of self-consciousness regarding our appearance.
Prominent ears often are an inherited trait. Approximately 25% of children whose parents have prominent ears will also have them.
A child with protruding or misshapen ears is certainly one of the most poignant needs for cosmetic surgery at an early age. The teasing they inevitably have to endure from classmates is painful and can affect self-esteem well into adulthood. Ear surgery or otoplasty is a procedure that can correct shape and protrusion problems caused either by genetics or traumatic injury in children, teens and adults.
It is commonly agreed that the time to have the surgery done for children is “the sooner, the better.” Children’s ears are generally fully developed and stable by age five or six, but their ear cartilage is much softer and therefore more pliable than an adult’s. Since this cartilage often must be cut and reshaped in the procedure, the child’s softer cartilage will more easily allow for this remolding.
The position, proportion, shape and symmetry of adult ears can also be corrected or restored through otoplasty. The procedure is often done in conjunction with other cosmetic surgery to create a more pleasing balance of facial features.
The best candidates for this surgery are adults or children who are in good general health, have no untreated chronic ear infections, are emotionally mature enough to understand what is being done, and have realistic expectations about what this procedure can do for them. Otoplasty does not solve hearing problems and more than one procedure may be necessary to correct some deformities and to ensure optimum results.
Otoplasty surgery generally takes about a half hour per ear and is usually performed on children using general anesthesia. Local anesthesia is typical for adults, and the procedure can be performed by Dr. Solomon’s in his miner surgery clinic. The incisions for otoplasty are generally placed behind the ears where it will be well hidden within the fold of the ear and behind hair. Some corrections and techniques may involve incisions in the front of the ear which are also conveniently obscured by the natural curves. Non-removable sutures or stitches are used to hold the repositioned, reshaped tissues and cartilage in their new place. Removable external sutures close the outside incisions. Dr. Solomon will personalize the technique for each patient depending on their particular needs and goals.
Some discomfort and swelling following surgery is normal and will be managed with pain medication. The patient’s ears will be bandaged with soft dressings and patients will be asked to avoid undue pressure on their ears by not sleeping on their side. A headband to help protect and support the reshaping of the ears will replace the bandages and is usually worn for about a week to ensure the ears are properly held in their new position. Patients can usually return to school or work in a week and resume their normal activities in one to two weeks.
There are risks to ear surgery, that include but are not limited to bleeding, infection, chronic ear dyscomfort, and reaction to anesthesia. Dr. Solomon will discuss these risks with you and give you detailed instructions on how to prepare for your surgery and how to take care of yourself afterwards to minimize those risks.
If you are considering otoplasty, it is very important for you to choose your surgeon carefully. The American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery recommends that you choose a surgeon who is board certified in Plastic Surgery of the Face and Neck. Not all plastic surgeons are board certified and not all are certified for Face and Neck Surgery. You can be assured with the knowledge that Dr. Philip Solomon is trained in Head and Neck Surgery and board certified by the ABFPRS and specializes exclusively in Face and Neck Cosmetic Plastic Surgery.
The often dramatic, positive results of ear surgery are immediately apparent after the bandages are removed, but the benefits to a child’s or adult’s self-esteem last a lifetime. Call our offices today if you are interested in learning how otoplasty could change your life or the life of your child.
Otoplasty Surgery Techniques
There are a number of different techniques in otoplasty surgery. The main types are suture technique and scoring technique. The suture technique uses long term sutures to mold the cartilage and permanently alter there shape. The sutures can rarely extrude thought the skin. If this does occur the new shape of the ear may have already been formed and the sutures just need to be removed. In some cases a revision operation may be needed.
The advantage of this technique is that a natural bend in the cartilage is often achieved. Cartilage incisional techniques are also done to modify the ears shape. The advantage is that the results are permanent and there is less likelihood of suture extrusion as less suture material is used. The disadvantage is the potential unnatural crease that can occur from this technique.
Ear surgery is generally done to modify the ears shape. In some rare cases a large ear may be surgically reduced by excising a segment of it. This is generally avoided in most cases as it can lead to scarring and ear deformity. This cosmetic surgery procedure is generally reserved for select cases where the surgeon feels the risks of the surgery are justified.
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