Ear surgery, also known as otoplasty, can improve the shape, position or proportion of the ear. Otoplasty can correct a defect in the ear structure that is present at birth that becomes apparent with development or it can treat misshapen ears caused by injury.
Ear surgery creates a natural shape, while bringing balance and proportion to the ears and face. Correction of even minor deformities can have profound beneﬁts to appearance and self-esteem.
Specifically ear surgery can treat:
- Overly large ears — a rare condition called macrotia.
- Protruding ears occurring on one or both sides in varying degrees — not associated with hearing loss.
- Adult dissatisfaction with previous ear surgery.
Ear Surgery Cost:
Otoplasty costs may include:
- Surgeon’s fee.
- Hospital or surgical facility costs.
- Anesthesia fees.
- Prescriptions for medication.
- Post-surgery garments.
- Medical tests.
When choosing a plastic surgeon for ear surgery, remember that the surgeon’s experience and your comfort with him or her are just as important as the ﬁnal cost of the surgery.
Children who are good candidates for ear surgery are:
- Healthy, without a life-threatening illness or untreated chronic ear infections.
- Generally 5 years old, or when a child’s ear cartilage is stable enough for correction.
- Cooperative and follow instructions well.
- Able to communicate their feelings and do not voice objections when surgery is discussed.
Teenagers and adults who are good candidates for ear surgery are:
- Healthy individuals who do not have a life-threatening illness or medical conditions that can impair healing.
- Individuals with a positive outlook and specific goals in mind for ear surgery.
Ear Surgery Preparation:
Prior to surgery, you may be asked to:
- Get lab testing or a medical evaluation.
- Take certain medications or adjust your current medications.
- Stop smoking well in advance of surgery.
- Avoid taking aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding.
Special instructions you receive will cover:
- What to do on the day of surgery.
- The use of anesthesia during your procedure.
- Post-operative care and follow-up.
Your plastic surgeon will also discuss where your procedure will be performed. Depending on the type of surgery you will undergo, your procedure may be performed in your plastic surgeon’s accredited ofﬁce-based surgical facility, an ambulatory surgical facility or a hospital.
Otoplasty Procedure Steps:
1. Step 1 – Anesthesia
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. The choices include local, intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.
2. Step 2 – The Incision
Correction of protruding ears uses surgical techniques to create or increase the antihelical fold (just inside the rim of the ear) and to reduce enlarged conchal cartilage (the largest and deepest concavity of the external ear). Incisions for otoplasty are generally made on the back surface of the ear. When incisions are necessary on the front of the ear, they are made within its folds to hide them. Internal, non-removable sutures are used to create and secure the newly shaped cartilage in place.
3. Step 3 – Closing Incisions
External stitches close the incision. Techniques are individualized, taking care not to distort other structures and to avoid an unnatural “pinned back” appearance.
4. Step 4 – Results
Ear surgery offers near immediate results in cases of protruding ears, visible once the dressings that support the new shape of the ear during initial phases of healing are removed. With the ear permanently positioned closer to the head, surgical scars are either hidden behind the ear or well-hidden in the natural creases of the
Ear Surgery Recovery:
Discomfort immediately following ear surgery is normal and can be controlled with pain medication. There may be an itchy feeling under bandages. It is essential that bandages remain intact and are not removed, for any reason. Failure to do so may result in loss of some of the correction and may require a secondary surgery.
Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon speciﬁc questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period.
- Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
- What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
- Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery? When will they be removed?
- Are stitches removed? When?
- When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
- When do I return for follow-up care?
The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.
Otoplasty Risks and Safety Information:
Some of the risks include:
- Bleeding (hematoma).
- Blood clots.
- Poor wound healing.
- Change in skin sensation.
- Skin contour irregularities.
- Skin discoloration/swelling.
- Anesthesia risks.
- Unfavorable scarring.
- Allergies to tape, suture materials, glues, blood products, topical preparations or injected agents.
- Pain, which may persist.
- Possibility of revisional surgery.
Where will my surgery be performed?
Ear surgery may be performed in your plastic surgeon’s accredited ofﬁce-based surgical facility, an ambulatory surgical facility or a hospital. Your plastic surgeon and the assisting staff will fully attend to your comfort and safety.
After surgery, bandages or dressings will be applied to keep your surgical site clean, protect it from trauma and to support the new position of the ear during initial healing.