The prospect of going through life with protruding ears is not a pleasant one for children or their parents. Children are often the most likely candidates for otoplasty (cosmetic ear surgery), though adults may also have concerns such as enlarged or torn earlobes.
Otoplasty is a cosmetic procedure to alter the shape of the ears to the size and shape of the head. It does not improve or detract from hearing ability.
Children become candidates for otoplasty procedures around the age of 5. This is an important time in their lives as they are beginning to develop a positive self image. At this age children can start getting teased about their ears especially as they enter school. Otoplasty works very well at this age because the cartilages are pliable and soft.
Otoplasty Before & After
Adults who request cosmetic ear surgery are most commonly concerned about their earlobes. Torn earlobes from years of heavy earrings are easily corrected with a simple office procedure. Enlarged earlobes are another common characteristic that can easily be improved.
Earlobe Reduction Before & After
Specific surgical techniques
The process for improving the appearance of the ears begin with an in-depth consultation with everyone involved in the otoplasty process – parents, children or just the adults who desire the procedure. We will discuss with you the options for improvement and the procedures involved. During the consultation, a 3D imaging system can be used to show what the results of your surgery can look like. This is helpful to understand exactly what we are trying to accomplish as well as any limitations of the procedure.
Choice of anesthetic may be different for children and adults. Children typically will require a mild general anesthesia here in our surgery center, West Annapolis Surgery Center, while adults may only require local anesthesia in the office.
For ear “pinning” surgery, incisions are made just behind the ear in the natural skin folds where the ear joins the head. The necessary amount of skin and cartilage are removed to achieve the desired shape before pinning the cartilage back with permanent sutures. In some procedures, no skin or cartilage will need to be removed.
For earlobe procedures, the old ear piercing is usually removed from the earlobe using a small incision. The earlobe is then repaired using sutures. Earlobe reduction usually requires a wedge of excess skin to be removed.
The scars from these procedures are virtually invisible.
After the surgery
For children undergoing ear pinning surgery, the recovery is pretty simple. Sutures behind the ear dissolve as do not have to be removed. A light “ear muff” type wrap is used for the first week after to surgery to protect the ears, especially during sleep. There is very little pain which can be controlled with Tylenol.
Earlobe procedures do not require a head wrap. There is simply a layer of sutures that are covered with a skin colored paper tape. This stays in place for a week, when you return to the office to have the sutures removed. Ears can be re-pierced in 8 weeks, which is done in our office during your follow up visit.
If you want additional information about otoplasty, visit the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons website.