Ears come in an infinite variety of shapes and sizes; however, sometimes the ears become to large or project too far out away from the side of the head. Ear surgery, known as Otoplasty, can be performed in order to improve the shape, position or proportion of the ears.
An Otoplasty procedure can be performed on both children and adults and is most commonly used to re-position overly prominent ears closer to the head or reduce the size of large ears. Dr. Brian Maloney at The Maloney Center for Facial Plastic Surgery reshapes not only the ear, but the self-image!
Candidates for Otoplasty
Your choice of a qualified facial plastic surgeon is of paramount importance. During the consultation, Dr. Maloney will examine the structure of the ears and discuss possibilities for correcting the problems. Even if only one ear needs pinning back, surgery will probably be recommended on both ears to achieve the most natural, symmetrical appearance.
A consultation with Dr. Maloney can help parents decide what is best for their child, not only aesthetically, but also psychologically and physically. Timing is always an important consideration. Having the procedure at a young age is highly desirable in two respects: the cartilage is extremely pliable, thereby permitting greater ease of shaping, and the child will experience psychological benefits from the cosmetic improvement. When it comes to Otoplasty, conventional wisdom is the “earlier the better.” Ears are one of the most asymmetrical features of the face. Patients should expect some degree of asymmetry even after the procedure.
About the Procedure
After Dr. Maloney and you decide that Otoplasty is needed, he will discuss the procedure. Following a thorough medical history, Dr. Maloney will explain the kind of anesthesia required, surgical facility, and costs. Typically, Dr. Maloney will suggest general anesthesia for young patients and a local anesthetic combined with a mild sedative, twilight, or general anesthesia for older children and adults. Under normal conditions, Otoplasty typically requires less than two hours to perform on both ears.
Surgery begins with an incision just behind the ear, in the natural fold where the ear is joined to the head. Dr. Maloney will then remove the necessary amounts of cartilage and skin required to achieve the right effect. In some cases, Dr. Maloney will trim the cartilage, shaping it into a more desirable form, and then pin the cartilage back with permanent sutures to secure the cartilage. In other cases, Dr. Maloney will weaken the cartilage and use stitches to hold it permanently in place during the healing process.
Soft dressings applied to the ears will remain overnight. Most patients experience some mild discomfort. If you are accustomed to sleeping on your side, your sleep patterns may be disrupted for a week or so because you cannot put any pressure on the ear areas. Headbands are sometimes recommended to protect the ears during the early stages of the healing period. Otoplasty risks are minimal. There will be a thin white scar behind the ear after healing. Because this scar is in a natural crease behind the ear, the problem of visibility is generally inconsequential. Anything unusual should be reported to Dr. Maloney immediately.
Benefits of Otoplasty
- Improves the shape, position or proportion of the ears.
- Brings balance and natural proportion to the ears and face.
- Builds self-esteem particularly in children.
- Prevents continual teasing and bullying from cruel classmates as reported in the media.
Aftercare and Recovery
After Otoplasty surgery, patients will be up and about in 1-2 days but may experience some discomfort. A mild pain medication containing aspirin or ibuprofen can be used. Stitches will be removed within 1-3 weeks; however, activity should be limited for the initial two weeks.