Otoplasty is the surgical reshaping of the outer ear. The aim is to improve appearance or correct a deformity.
Why have an otoplasty?
Some individuals feel as though their ears are too big and this can create psychological distress and embarrassment. Being bullied or teased due to ears that stick out can tremendously affect a child’s emotional well-being and self-confidence. Adults with protruding ears often feel embarrassed too.
What causes prominent ears?
The outer ear is generally positioned on the side of the head at an angle of about 20 to 35 degrees. When the angle becomes more than 35 degrees, the ears protrude and stick out.
They occur for a number of reasons:
- Underdeveloped cartilage: the ridge of cartilage at the top of the ear does not fold correctly.
- Overdevelopment cartilage: when the outer ear has excess cartilage, it is more likely to be prominent.
- Injury: prominent ears can result from an injury to the ears.
How it works
A plastic surgeon will use otoplastic techniques to reconstruct, correct or replace a defective, deformed or missing ear. For optimal results, an otoplasty surgery should be administered by an experienced surgeon who specialises in otoplasty and operates out of a renowned clinic like Dr Zurek surgicentre. The procedure should be conducted after the ears have reached their fully developed size, which is normally five years old.
What to expect during surgery?
Adults can undergo surgery with a with local anaesthesia. Whereas children will have general anaesthesia. The surgeon makes an incision behind the ear. The procedure takes approximately one to two hours to complete. There is a thin scar, but it is localised behind the ear and out of view.
Bandages will need to be worn over the ears for several days after surgery. While the bandages are in place, patients will not be able to wash their hair. After the bandages have been removed, a supportive headband will need to be worn over the ears at night-time. This will help eliminate tension from the ears. The individual can return to school or work within a week of surgery.
Patients need to revert from participating in activities that could cause injury or trauma to their ears during the recovery period. Mild bruising and numbness may persist for up to two weeks.
- Infection: In very rare cases, infection of the cartilage and skin of the ear can develop. This can be efficiently treated with antibiotics.
- Bleeding: a blood clot can develop underneath the skin of the ear. There may be severe inflammation, pain and bleeding of the wound. Bandages will have to be removed to treat the hematoma and the lesion.
- Suture complications: Complications really depend on if the sutures used are braided, monofilament or absorbable.
- Recurrence: the ears may begin to stick out again. If this is the case, revision surgery may be necessary.
- Unsatisfactory results: Sometimes, the results of cosmetic or reconstructive surgery are not what the person visualised.