Otoplasty is the name of the operation to correct protruding ears. Otoplasty is distinguished from other procedures that correct different problems of the ear: Ear lobes may be reshaped, ear piercings may be created or removed, and a whole new ear can be built for patients with one ear underdeveloped or missing from birth or trauma.
An otoplasty is a surgical procedure performed to improve the shape of your ears. The type of deformity of your ears may be minimal such as an inward curved lobule or a major deformity in the shape of cup ears.
An otoplasty can be performed for one or more of the following reasons:
- to alleviate the deformity in your ears
- to create symmetry between your ears
- to decrease the size of your ears
- to re-shape the deformity in children’s ears to decrease the amount of teasing they are exposed to.
What is the most appropriate age for an otoplasty?
After birth the ear cartilages reach their normal age around the age of 5-6 years old. As this coincides with the age at which primary school starts it is a good age for surgery. There is no upper limit regarding age for otoplasty.
Could I benefit from an otoplasty?
You may be an appropriate candidate for an otoplasty for one of the following reasons:
- you are bothered by the shape of your ears.
- you are the parent of a child who is constantly being picked on and called nicknames because of the shape of his/her ears.
- you have problems when wearing eyeglasses or sunglasses due to the position of your ears.
How is otoplasty surgery done?
Otoplasty surgery in children is typically performed under general anaesthesia.
In adults it may be performed either under general anaesthesia or local anaesthesia with or without sedation.
After anaesthesia and sterilisation of the area around your ears an incision is placed on the back side of your ear. There is no need to shave any hair during this procedure. After this the surgeon according to what he/she sees fit, will take out or rearrange cartilage, soft tissue of the ear and skin. The surgeon may also place sutures in the ear to achieve the desired shape. Then the surgeon will place sutures to close the incision site. After one ear is finished, measurements will be made and the other ear will be operated on with these measurements as guidelines.
What can I expect before surgery?
Your surgeon will ask you about your or your childs past medical history, including medications you are taking, allergies, smoking habits, previous surgery and more. She / he will talk about the various options of correcting your or your child’s ears.
Your surgeon will also talk to you about the risks, benefits and possible complications of an otoplasty procedure. The discussion includes the type of anaesthesia to be undertaken. General anaesthesia is more frequently performed for children but is also an option for adults. Local anaesthesia with sedation is also an option in older children and adults. Your surgeon will also talk to you about results, realistic expectations, and what the limitations of the procedure are. Some centers offer computer simulation to give you an idea of the possible result of surgery. It is important to remark that computer simulation has important limitations and cannot be a guarantee for the projected result.
For these reasons other reputable centers abstain from offering computer simulation. The operation may be performed as an outpatient procedure or the patient may be admitted to the hospital for observation and dressing changes.
What can I expect after surgery?
The patient can typically get up and walk around the evening of the surgery or the following morning, initially with assistance. You should be prepared for moderate swelling and bruising of the ears after removal of bandage. The degree of swelling differs markedly from patient to patient.
The swelling and bruising both subside within 4-6 weeks, after which time it is typically hardly notable that you just underwent surgery.
Will I have a bandage or a drain after surgery?
A bandage is frequently applied after the surgery. The bandage is wrapped around your head to apply pressure over the ears and to minimise the risk of blood collection under the skin (hematoma). Change and removal of the dressing is typically pain-free.
The bandage is removed between 1 and 7 days after surgery according to the surgeon´s preference. Your surgeon may advise you to wear a headband after removal of the bandage. An ointment may be applied to the incision site.
Will there be pain after the surgery?
Pain after surgery is typically very mild and well controlled with pain medications. The patient may need to take pain medication for one to five days. Sometimes the bandage itself or the headband may cause pain in which case you should talk with your physician about loosening the bandage or obtaining a larger headband.
What are possible risks and complications of otoplasty?
- Blood may collect under the skin and may require removal. This so called hematoma may be evacuated with a syringe, or it may require a short surgical procedure for removal.
- A loss of sensation on the back of the ear may occur but is most often transient and will heal in 2-6 months.
- Asymmetry of the ears after surgery may also occur. A mild degree of asymmetry is present in most people and should not be regarded as a problem or complication. Pronounced and persistent asymmetry may necessitate additional treatment or a second operation.
- Is it possible that I will need revision surgery?
The result of an otoplasty may be expected to last forever. Only when the desired position of the ears is not achieved or when there is pronounced asymmetry, a second procedure may be advised.
How long will I be off work/ how long will my child be away from school?
Generally speaking the recovery period after otoplasty is short and you may start doing your daily routines one to three days after surgery. Children may start school after one to two weeks.