Protruding or excessively large ears are often a source of self-consciousness and embarrassment, particularly for children who endure bullying as a result of this distinctive feature. Over time, ridicule from peers can lead to low self-esteem, social anxiety and, in serious cases, depression. Ear surgery, or otoplasty, can bring improved balance to the ears and face for children as well as adults who are distressed by prominent ears. The procedure can also be used to correct deformities, asymmetry, drooping and disproportionately sized ear lobes.
What benefits can ear surgery provide?
The term otoplasty refers to ear surgeries that modify the size, shape and position of the ears. The techniques included in this family of procedures can produce a range of cosmetic benefits depending on the patient’s needs, including:
- “Pinning back” protruding ears
- Reducing the size of disproportionately large ears
- Increasing the size of disproportionately small ears
- Improving symmetry between ears that are uneven in size or positioning
- Improving deformities present at birth or caused by injury
- Revising unsatisfactory results from previous ear surgery
What happens during ear surgery?
Otoplasty is an outpatient procedure in most cases and takes approximately two to three hours to complete. More complex procedures may require additional time. The technique selected will depend on the problem the patient is seeking to correct.
Ear pinning surgery is one of the most commonly requested forms of otoplasty. During the procedure, anesthesia is administered to ensure the patient’s comfort and the surgeon makes an incision behind the ear. This incision exposes the underlying cartilage and is placed, so that future scarring is inconspicuous. The surgeon can then sculpt the cartilage into a more aesthetically pleasing size and shape as needed, and bend the cartilage back towards the head to secure the ear into a more unobtrusive orientation. Some techniques require the removal of cartilage, while others reshape the ear while leaving the cartilage intact. Stitches are used to close the incision and help the ear maintain its new shape.
What can I expect during recovery?
Some discomfort is to be expected after surgery. Patients may experience throbbing or aching for several days, but these sensations are usually mild and managed effectively with medication. Stitches are typically removed, or dissolve, in about a week. The patient’s normal sleep patterns may be disrupted during this time, as pressure should not be applied to the ears during the critical initial healing stage. Any bandages applied to the ears should remain in place until Dr. Bazzi gives instructions to remove this dressing.
Before surgery, Dr. Bazzi will discuss guidelines for a smooth recovery. These may include directions to wear an elastic band that holds the ears in proper placement, limitations on activities that may cause the ear to bend and directions to avoid wearing certain accessories until the healing process has advanced. Patients can usually return to work or school in about seven days. Children may require additional supervision from parents, teachers and other guardians for the first few weeks of recovery.
What results can ear surgery achieve?
Ear surgery is a rewarding experience with a high satisfaction rate. When protruding ears are the concern, results from surgery are visible as soon as the dressings are removed. These results can last a lifetime, provided there is no trauma to the ears that disrupts their improved shape or position. After undergoing otoplasty, patients enjoy:
- Improved confidence and self-image
- Increased comfort in social situations
- Minimal or invisible scarring
- Permanent results
Are there other types of ear surgery?
Otoplasty is not limited to correcting protruding ears. Ear surgery can treat a variety of other ear concerns including large or stretched ear lobes, lobes with significant creases and wrinkles, abnormally large or small ears, and conditions that cause the outer rim of the ear to be folded, wrinkled or tight.
Who is a candidate for ear surgery?
Adults who are good candidates for otoplasty are nonsmokers in overall good health with realistic expectations about the results the procedure can achieve. For children, more factors must be considered to determine candidacy. Otoplasty should be performed after the ears have grown to their full size (around the ages of four or five). The operation is generally not necessary unless the child indicates discomfort with their appearance and experiences psychological distress. An evaluation is necessary to determine the effectiveness of surgery for any patient’s concerns, adult or child, as well as the most beneficial technique. Call Bazzi Plastic Surgery today at 734-844-5700 to request a consultation.