Otoplasty is a relatively simple procedure that can bring immense relief to people who are conscious of their ear size. Here are some common questions that people ask when considering otoplasty.
Who is a Suitable Candidate for Otoplasty
Ears reach 90% of their adult size by the age of six or seven. For this reason, Otoplasty can be performed on children from this age upwards. Before the age of six, the cartilage is very soft and less able to hold the new shape formed by surgery. Adults can undergo the procedure at any age.
How Long Does Otoplasty take
The procedure normally takes one to two hours to perform.
What Form of Anesthesia is Used for Otoplasty
The procedure is commonly done using local anesthetic which is administered by a series of injections around the ears. These can be painful and if the patient is a young child, general anesthesia will be used instead. A sedative is commonly used in conjunction with local anesthesia
How is Otoplasty Performed
The surgery normally progresses as follows:
- The incision sites are marked by the surgeon
- Anesthesia is administered
- An incision in made into the crease at the back of the ear
- The exposed cartilage is trimmed and reshaped
- The ear is sutured internally and externally
- Dressings are applied and paper casts may be wrapped around the ears or a full head bandage may be used
What are the Side Effects of Otoplasty
The most common effect is pain. The surgeon will normally prescribe pain killers for use after the anesthesia has worn off. Infections and bleeding are rare but should be considered if the ears are excessively painful or swollen. Numbness in the tips of the ears may persist for several months while nerves are regenerating.
What is the Recovery Period for Otoplasty
Otoplasty is normally done on a day patient basis. The person is admitted to the hospital or clinic in the morning and discharged later the same day. The ears will remain covered for 7 to 14 days and during this time, they must be kept dry. Once the sutures are removed, it is important to avoid contact sports for three to four months.
Does Otoplasty Give Good Results
Some patients find their ears are slightly asymmetrical after their surgery. If this is really obvious, the surgeon may perform another minor procedure to correct their appearance. Having said this, many people have ears that don’t quite match and generally, no one ever notices.
Big ears are hard to disguise and it is better to get them corrected surgically than spend a lifetime trying to hide them under hairstyles and hats. A few weeks of discomfort is worth a lifetime of confidence. This is especially true if a child is being bullied because of his ears.
Recommended Reading: Your Complete Guide to Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, edited by Stacy Gregg, Penguin Books 1997/2005