Ear Reshaping Surgery (Otoplasty)
Ear reshaping surgery, also known as otoplasty, can improve the shape and position of the ear. Otoplasty can correct defects in the ear structure, which may be present since birth and become more apparent as you develop. You might choose otoplasty if you’re bothered by how far your ears stick out from your head. Your ear defect may also have been caused by trauma or injury. Ear reshaping surgery can create a more natural shape to the ear and bring more proportion and balance to the face and ears. Otoplasty can be done at any age after the ears have reached their full size. This is usually after age 5 and through childhood.
Candidates for ear reshaping surgery include:
- Healthy individuals
- Individuals who are at least 5 years old
- Individuals who’s ear or ears stick out too far from their head
- Individuals with large ears in proportion to their head
- Individuals who are dissatisfied with a previous ear surgery
It is recommended to stop smoking before and after this procedure. Smoking decreases blood flow in the skin and can slow the healing process. Certain medications such as aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements should be avoided as well.
Ear reshaping surgery may be performed in your plastic surgeon’s office or at a surgery center. To correct protruding ears, surgical techniques are used to create or increase the antihelical fold (inside the rim of the ear). This also reduces enlarged conchal cartilage, which is the deepest and largest concavity of the external ear. Otoplasty incisions are made on the back surface of the ear. If incisions are necessary on the front of the ear, they are made within its fold to hide them. Non-removable sutures are placed internally, to create and secure the newly shaped ear in place. External stitches are then used to close the incision.
Recovery, Risks and Results
Ear reshaping surgery risks may include:
- Asymmetry in ear placement
- Change in skin sensation
- Skin discoloration/swelling
- Unfavorable scarring
- Problems with stitches
Like any surgery, otoplasty poses a risk of bleeding, infection and adverse reactions to anesthesia. It is also possible to have an allergic reaction to the surgical tape or other materials used during the procedure.
Otoplasty is safely performed as an outpatient procedure, usually your plastic surgeon’s office. Recovery from otoplasty is relatively easy. Discomfort following otoplasty surgery is normal and can be controlled with pain medication. After the procedure Dr. Moenster will place a head bandage, which covers both ears. This dressing is important for a speedy recovery and needs to remain intact until your plastic surgeon states otherwise.
Rest and relaxation is important for recovery. Patients should keep their head elevated above the level of the heart to help prevent swelling and bruising. Physical activity should be avoided for two weeks.
After your bandages are removed, you’ll notice immediate results in the appearance of your ears. These changes are permanent. Surgical incisions are hidden behind the ear or well hidden in the natural creases, if the ear was positioned closer to the head.