Ear Reshaping (Otoplasty)
Prominent ears can be a source of embarrassment for children and adults. The techniques for correcting ear shape are well established and predictably good. For children, prominent ears are ideally corrected the summer before first grade. For adults, it can be done at any time.
Who is a good candidate?
Prominent ears are the result of stiff misshapen cartilage that stent the top of the ear out away from the side of the head. Most adults disguise it by wearing longer hairstyles, but avoid pulling the hair back or swimming. Parents need to make the decision for their children to try to avoid having it become a teasing issue as the child gets into a school setting.
Other parts of the ear can be large or prominent and cause embarrassment. The central “bowl” of the ear can be excessively large or the earlobe can be overly “dangly” or “attached” (pixie ear).
How is the procedure performed?
Ear correction can be performed in our fully accredited operating facility under local anesthesia with sedation or general anesthesia if you prefer. We access the ear cartilage through a hidden incision on the back of the ear. By making some well planned incisions in the cartilage and place holding sutures, the ear is reshaped into a more normal form. We try to place the component parts of the ear in precise relationship to each other and hold them in that shape until they solidly heal.
What is the post-operative recovery?
We recommend protecting the ear very carefully for two weeks after surgery. The initial dressing stays on for three to five days. After that we recommend that you sleep in a protective headband or scarf to prevent the ear from catching on the pillow at night. By three weeks, the form is quite solid, so the ear is unlikely to be affected by minor trauma.
What can I expect for results?
The results of ear correction are almost always entirely satisfactory for patients. The most fun experience we have with ear surgery patients is to see them back after surgery with hair pulled back or cut short for the first times in their adult lives!
Are there any complications?
Complications are uncommon with ear reshaping. Small collections of blood (hematoma) can occur requiring drainage. Infection is possible but usually easily treated with antibiotics. Recurrence of the deformity can occur because of cartilage “memory” but secondary surgery is possible to correct it.