Ear Surgery (technically known as Otoplasty) is usually done to set prominent ears back closer to the head or to reduce the size of large ears. For the most part, the operation is done on children between the ages of four and fourteen. Ears are almost fully grown by age four, and the earlier the surgery, the less teasing and ridicule the child will have to endure. Ear Surgery on adults is also possible, and there are generally no additional risks associated with Ear Surgery on an older patient.
Most plastic surgeons recommend that parents stay alert to their child's feelings about protruding ears; don't insist on the surgery until your child wants the change. Children who feel uncomfortable about their ears and want the surgery are generally more cooperative during the process and happier with the outcome.
Ear Surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure in a hospital, a doctor's office-based surgical facility, or a freestanding surgery center. If your child is young, your surgeon may recommend general anesthesia, so the child will sleep through the operation. For older children or adults, the surgeon may prefer to use local anesthesia, combined with a sedative, so you or your child will be awake but relaxed. Ear Surgery usually takes about two to three hours, although complicated procedures may take longer. The technique will depend on the problem.
With one of the more common techniques, the surgeon makes a small incision in the back of the ear to expose the ear cartilage. He or she will then sculpt the cartilage and bend it back toward the head. Non-removable stitches may be used to help maintain the new shape. Occasionally, the surgeon will remove a larger piece of cartilage to provide a more natural-looking fold when the surgery is complete. Another technique involves a similar incision in the back of the ear. Skin is removed and stitches are used to fold the cartilage back on itself to reshape the ear without removing cartilage. In most cases, ear surgery will leave a faint scar in the back of the ear that will fade with time. Even when only one ear appears to protrude, surgery is usually performed on both ears for a better balance.
Any activity in which the ear might be bent should be avoided for a month or so. Most adults can go back to work about five days after surgery. Children can go back to school after seven days or so, if they're careful about playground activity. You may want to ask your child's teacher to keep an eye on the child for a few weeks.
Most patients, young and old alike, are happy with the results of ear surgery. If you have discussed the procedure and your expectations with the surgeon before the operation, chances are, you will be very pleased with the result.
If you are considering Otoplasty, or cosmetic ear surgery, let one of the experienced plastic surgeons at the Lombardi Plastic Surgery Center in NJ review the procedure with you and help you make an informed decision.
If you have questions, we are happy to help. Call us at 732-460-9555.