If protruding or unshapely ears bother you, you may consider plastic surgery. Ear surgery (otoplasty) can improve their shape, projection, position or proportion. It can correct defects in ear structure that are present at birth, become apparent with growth or are caused by injury. (e.g. cauliflower ears).
The majority of aesthetic ear concerns can be improved with surgery. These include: “lop ear,” when the top seems to fold down and forward; “cupped ear,” usually a very small ear; and “shell ear,” when the curve in the outer rim and the natural folds and creases are missing. Surgery can also improve large or stretched earlobes or lobes with large creases and wrinkles. Split earlobes can be easily repaired.
Most surgery is done as an outpatient. The procedure may take 1 – 2 hours per side, depending on the complexity of the problem at hand. It usually takes about two hours, often done under local anaesthetic, although complicated procedures may take longer. Children up to about 12 years generally need a general anaesthetic.
Since schoolyard teasing and ridicule can negatively impact a child’s self-esteem, many parents seek otoplasty for their children at an early age. Of course, ear surgery can be performed to reshape adult ears as well, to increase self-esteem and improve appearance. Well-hidden incisions are placed behind the ear, which limits visible scarring. This allows our surgeons to gain access to the cartilage of the ears for contouring. Otoplasty brings the ears in balance with the head and face.
Otoplasty begins with an incision behind the ear so that the cartilage can be exposed. This cartilage is then removed and/or reshaped until the ear takes on a normal appearance. Excess skin is removed and if the ear shows protrusion, our surgeon will reposition it closer to the head and firmly secure it with non-dissolving sutures. There are many variables that are used to help redefine the ears.
The goal of this surgery is to produce a natural looking result that will be long lasting for the patient, the details of the surgery can vary along with the problem to be addressed. Often, a unique operation will be tailored to the exact needs of the patient. Your surgeon will be happy to discuss their specific plans with you during your consultation.
Swelling and bruising are usually minimal after otoplasty. The swelling and bruising will start to resolve during the first couple of weeks after surgery, although this will vary between patients. A head-dressing is applied immediately after surgery and removed at the first office visit usually at 1 week. An elastic headband must be worn for several more weeks for protection especially when sleeping. Patients must avoid strenuous activity for a minimum of 1-2 months following surgery. Children will need to be monitored closely so that they do not pick or scratch at their ears during the healing phase.