What is this surgery used for?
Otoplasty is used to resize or reshape the ears. The procedure can also reposition protruding ears so they are in a more natural position closer to the head. This surgery can be performed as soon as the ears reach their full size, which usually occurs around the age of five.
What occurs during this surgery?
There are various techniques involved in otoplasty, and your surgeon will determine which one is most fitting for you. The procedure often requires incisions to be made on the backs of the ears or on the inner creases. The surgeon can then remove excess cartilage and skin and fold remaining cartilage into the proper position. Otoplasty can sometimes be performed with a local anesthetic. You may also require general anesthesia, which will render you unconscious during the procedure.
What care is required before this surgery?
Avoid aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications. If you smoke, you should aim to give up this habit before the procedure. Smoking can reduce blood flow and inhibit the post-operation healing process. Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing to the surgery. Your physician will provide you with specific instructions on what you should do on the day of your surgery.
What care is required after this surgery?
Your ears will be bandaged after the surgery to provide protection and support. The bandages will be removed within a few days, but you’ll need to wear a headband for several weeks afterward to keep you from unconsciously pulling your ears while you sleep. Avoid sleeping on your side, which will put pressure on your ears. You’ll also want to wear button-down shirts and other clothing which you don’t need to pull over your head since these clothes can put too much force on your stitches. Common side effects include itching, swelling, and discomfort. You may be prescribed pain medication to aid with your recovery. Immediately contact your physician if you notice excessive bleeding, develop a fever, or injure your ears in any way.
How long is the recovery time?
You should plan to have someone take you home after the surgery. Ideally, someone should also stay with you the first night after the surgery. While you will be able to resume normal activities quickly, you will need to take certain precautions for about two weeks. These include sneezing with your mouth open, avoiding strenuous activity, eating soft foods, not wearing earrings, not blowing your nose, and using caution when using a comb, hair dryer, or other materials near your ears. You should notice a change in the appearance of your ears immediately.
Are there any risks associated with this surgery?
Otoplasty can cause scarring as well as inflammation if the stitches placed in the ear make their way under the surface of the skin. The surgery can affect the sensation of the skin in the ears, and in rare cases, this can be permanent. Other risks include infection, bleeding, blood clots, and allergic reactions to materials used during the surgery. You may also be dissatisfied with the new appearance of your ears. Some problems can include asymmetry or a displeasing “pinned back” look. Additional surgery may be required to correct these issues.