In the past few decades, thousands of individuals have been physically as well as psychologically helped through a surgical procedure called otoplasty. Otoplasty, sometimes described as “ear pinning”, is designed to change their shape and contour. Protruding ears can be a source of embarrassment and mental anguish for many people. It can be performed on anyone over the age of five or six years old, which is the age at which ear growth is almost complete. For children with severely protruding ears, it is recommended that ear surgery is performed at an early age before they are exposed to psychological stress related to the condition.
Before Otoplasty Surgery
Prior to surgery, a complete medical history is taken to evaluate the general health of the patient to make sure they are a good candidate for this surgery, and to minimize the risks of complications. The plastic surgeon and patient or, in the case of a minor, a family member, discuss how the ears should look and what can realistically be expected. The plastic surgeon will then go over the realistic goals that they expect from the outcome of the surgery, explain the procedure, and describe the type of anesthesia to be used. Before and after photographs will also be taken to document the amount of improvement. Preoperative instructions may include the elimination of certain drugs containing aspirin for several weeks before the procedure to minimize the chance of excess bleeding. Patients may also be instructed to shampoo their hair with an antiseptic shampoo the night before surgery.
The Otoplasty Procedure
The Otoplasty procedure is done under general or local anesthesia in our surgical center. There are several surgical procedures which are designed to bring the ears closer to the head. A basic procedure involves an incision made at the back of the ear to expose firm, pliable tissue called cartilage. The cosmetic surgeon may either fold down the cartilage or use sutures to keep the folds together or remove excess cartilage. After reshaping the cartilage, the incisions are closed with small sutures and the ears are covered with bandages. The procedure can take up to two hours or more depending upon the extent of surgery.
Following Otoplasty Surgery
Pain after the surgery is minimal to moderate and is controlled with oral medication. Bandages can be removed within a few days but may be replaced with a lighter head dressing. Wearing a tennis headband for a period to hold back the ears may also be recommended.