Otoplasty is a surgical procedure that is undertaken to change the shape, position or size of the ears. That is why it is also called cosmetic ear surgery.
You can consider otoplasty if you are bothered by how far your ears stick out from your head. You can also think of otoplasty if your ears are misshapen due to an injury or birth defect.
Otoplasty can be done at any age after ears reached its full size, usually after the age five. In rare cases, the surgery is done as early as age three.
If a child’s ears are sticking out and there are other ear-shape problems, splinting may
successfully correct these issues if treatment is started right after birth.
When to consider otoplasty?
You can consider otoplasty if:
- your ear or ears stick out too far from your head
- your ears are large in proportion to your head
- you are dissatisfied with a previous ear surgery
Otoplasty is generally done on both ears to achieve symmetry. The point to be noted is otoplasty does not change the ears’ location or alters its ability to hear.
Preparation for the procedure
Initially, you have to talk to your plastic surgeon regarding your wish to undergo a cosmetic procedure on your ear. During that visit, your plastic surgeon will likely:
Check your medical history: Be ready to answer questions about current and past medical conditions, especially any diseases regarding ear. Make sure you talk to your plastic surgeon regarding any medications that you are currently taking as well as any surgeries you had undergone.
Physical examination: To zero in on the right treatment option, doctor will conduct thorough physical examination including the size, shape and symmetry. To maintain proper medical record, photograph of the ears will also be taken.
Discuss your expectations: Explain why you consider otoplasty and what you are expecting out of otoplasty in terms of appearance after the procedure. Make sure you understand the risks of the procedure as well.
Before undergoing the procedure you might also need to:
Stop smoking: Smoking decreases blood flow in the skin and delay the healing process. If you smoke, doctor may advise you to stop smoking before and during the recovery period.
Avoid certain medications: You may be advised to avoid medications that promote bleeding such as aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements.
Arrange for help during recovery: Make sure you have somebody to drive back home after surgery and stay with you for the first night after the procedure.
Advantage of otoplasty is that apart from hospital, it can be done in an outpatient surgical facility as well. Sometimes the procedure is done with sedation and local anesthesia which numbs only a part of the body. In other cases, general anesthesia is preferred which renders you unconscious. It is up to the surgeon and anesthetist to decide as to the type of the anesthesia.
Otoplasty differs from person to person depending on what type of correction is required. Your plastic surgeon may choose the appropriate technique based on the location of the incisions and the resulting scars.
Your surgeon is likely to make incisions on the back of your ears and within the inner creases of your ears. Once incision is made, the excess cartilage and skin are likely to be removed. The surgeon will fold the cartilage into proper position and secure it with internal stitches. Additional stitches may be required to close the incisions made. The procedure can last about two hours.
After the procedure bandages will be used to cover the ears for protection and support. You may feel a little bit of discomfort and itching. Doctor may prescribe pain medications for you and in the unlikely even if the pain persists despite taking the pain medications, contact your doctor immediately.
Take good care of the surgical area and avoid sleeping on that side. Also try not to rub or apply force on the incisions. It is better to wear button-down shirts and shirts with loose fitting collars.
A few days after the procedure bandage will be removed by the doctor. Your ears may appear swollen and red. Wearing a loose headband that covers your ears at night is a good measure to keep you from pulling your ears forward when rolling over in bed.
Your doctor will inform as to when your stitches will be removed. Some stitches may dissolve on their own; others will be removed by doctor in due course. Ask your doctor when you can get back to your daily activities like bathing and physical activity.
Once the bandages are removed you will notice a significant improvement in the appearance of your ears. What is even more endearing is these changes are permanent. Last but not the least; don’t forget to “thank” your doctor who had meticulously done it with least amount of pain!