An otoplasty procedure performed by our plastic surgeon, Mark Pinsky, MD, can adjust the position, size, and shape of ears to create a more natural appearance. For example, otoplasty surgery can pin a person’s ears back if they happen to stick out too far, or reduce the size of large ears.
Other reasons an otoplasty procedure might be sought out are to correct what is commonly referred to as “lop” ear. Lop ear is when a person’s ear appears to fold down and forward. There are also conditions known as “cupped ear” and “shell ear”. In these situations either the ear is very small (cupped ear) or the natural curves and creases are not present (shell ear) giving the patient a flat, unnatural looking ear.
If you experience any of the above conditions you may be an ideal candidate for an otoplasty.
Otoplasty surgery can be performed as early as four to six years of age. Once your doctor determines that the growth of the ear is complete the procedure can move forward. Otoplasty surgeries are most often performed on children to reduce the chances of being teased about their ears, but otoplasties can be performed on adults as well.
As with any cosmetic procedure, it is important to educate yourself regarding the benefits and risks associated with an otoplasty. Education is the key aspect to ensuring the highest possible success rate.
The Otoplasty Procedure
A common otoplasty procedure takes between two and three hours. This can vary depending on the patient and the level of work to be done. Typically, Dr. Pinsky would make an incision behind the ear to expose the cartilage. Once exposed, he can go in and begin to reshape the ear by trimming the cartilage and bending the ear back toward the head. Stitches are commonly used not only to hold the incision closed but to hold the ear in its new position (if that is part of the procedure in your particular instance). Because of the location of the incision, any scars associated with the procedure are unnoticeable.
If you happen to have an issue with only one of your ears Dr. Pinsky may elect to operate on both anyway. This is done to ensure the best possible balance post-surgery. This is common when only ear requires attention and should not be of concern.
The age of the patient is often the determining factor when it comes to the type of anesthesia used during your otoplasty procedure. Dr. Pinsky chooses general anesthesia with younger patients most often, allowing the young patient to sleep through the procedure. Adult patients may have the option for local anesthesia allowing them to be awake through the surgery, but relaxed and pain free.
Recovering from an Otoplasty
After your otoplasty procedure you can expect to be sent home in a bulky bandage. This is used to ensure the best molding of the ear post-surgery. As with any surgery a certain amount of pain and discomfort can be expected. Throbbing in the ear and earaches can be expected. Your discomfort should be easily managed with pain medication. If you have sharp, intense pain that medication is not treating, consult your doctor immediately.
About a week after your surgery your doctor will remove the stitches. It is recommended that activities that may involve contact with the ear (such as sports) be avoided for a period recommended by your doctor. In most cases adults can return to work within five days after their surgery. Children are usually allowed back to school within seven days.
To ensure the best possible results from your otoplasty surgery it is imperative that you are open and honest with your plastic surgeon. Make sure to share your medical history and goals for the procedure without hesitation. Your otoplasty consultation is no time to be shy. Giving your doctor all the pertinent information regarding your care will better help him or her prepare for both the procedure and supporting you through your recovery.
Investigate your procedure in advance and prepare a list of questions for your doctor. Knowledge will not only set you at ease regarding your procedure, but having all the information will help you develop reasonable, realistic expectations for your surgery results.
If you work with your doctor and follow all instructions both pre and post-surgery and get informed about the procedure in advance you’ll minimize your risk of complications and maximize your results.