Ear surgery, or otoplasty, is procedure that places the ears in a more aesthetically
desired position. Typically, this procedure is performed to correct protruding
ears. Ear surgery may also be performed to alter the shape of the ear to create
balance and harmony to the head. Ear malformations, such as lop ear, when the
tip of the ear folds down and forward; cupped ear, a very small ear; shell ear,
when the curve in the outer rim, as well as the natural folds and creases, are
missing; large or stretched earlobes; and lobes with large creases and
wrinkles may be corrected through this surgical procedure. Since the average
person's ears are fully developed by the age of four, this type of surgery is
most commonly performed on a child or adolescent.
is ear surgery performed?
techniques for ear surgery will vary depending on the problem
you want to correct. One of the more common techniques is for
surgeons to make a small incision in the back of the ear that
exposes the cartilage. Your surgeon will sculpt and shape the
cartilage to the desired position, and then bend it back toward
your head. In most cases, non-removable stitches will be used
to maintain your new shape. To provide a more natural looking
ear fold, your surgeon may remove a larger piece of cartilage
when the procedure is completed.
technique your surgeon may choose is to make a smaller incision
in the back of your ear. Skin is removed, instead of cartilage,
and stitches are then used to fold the cartilage on to itself.
This technique pulls the ear back flat against your head and
enables your surgeon to reshape the ear without removing cartilage.
The technique your physician uses will depend on your ear's current
condition and the result you want to achieve. In most cases,
the surgery leaves a light scar on the backside of your ear that
will fade over time. To create a more balanced appearance, surgeons
will normally operate on both ears even if only one ear is misshapen.
Your surgeon will evaluate your ears and speak with you about
the results you would like to achieve and recommend the most
long does ear surgery take?
surgeries generally take two to three hours to perform. However,
procedures that are more complicated may take longer.
type of anesthesia is used?
ear operations performed on young children, general anesthesia
is normally used throughout the operation. For older children
and grown adults, surgeons will normally use local anesthesia
and a sedative, which will cause you to be awake but very relaxed.
is the procedure performed?
most cases, ear surgery is performed on an outpatient basis (no
overnight hospital stay is required) in a hospital or surgical
suite in your physician's office. However, for more complicated
procedures, your physician may recommend that you plan to stay
over night in a hospital. Surgeons also may recommend that children
stay over night in a hospital even for simple procedures until
all the effects from general anesthesia completely wear off.
can I return home and resume normal activities?
will need to avoid any physical activity that could involve the
bending of your ear for about a month. The average adult should
allow for about five days of recovery before returning to work.
Children should plan on spending a quiet restful week away from
school after ear surgery. Even with a week off, children should
be very careful when returning to playground activities. It might
be wise to alert teachers to your child's condition so they can
provide closer supervision.
do I prepare for ear surgery?
your initial consultation, your surgeon will discuss the changes
that you would like to make to your appearance. Since the appearance
of your ears is a matter of personal perception and preference,
you will need to discuss your concerns in detail so your surgeon
can determine the appropriate alternatives. If you are considering
this surgery for a child, most surgeons recommend that parents
do not insist on the surgery until the child desires the change.
You also should make arrangements ahead of time for someone to
drive you to and from your procedure and to assist you with your
daily activities during your recovery period.
to your surgical procedure, the surgeon will perform a complete
health history and physical. Knowledge of your allergies, medications
and previous surgeries should be brought to your surgeon's attention
at this time. Specific instructions to assist you in preparing
for this procedure will be given to you after the health history
and physical is complete. Depending on your individual health
status, the instructions may include guidelines regarding your
diet, alcohol intake, smoking and which medications to take or
avoid. Your experience will be much smoother if you remain compliant
with your surgeon's instructions.
precautions are necessary during recovery?
should be able to be up and around a few hours after your ear
surgery. To promote healing and help maintain the new shape your
surgeon has sculpted, your head will wrapped in a bulky bandage.
You may experience some pain and throbbing in your ears for a
few days. However, your surgeon should be able to provide you
with medication that minimizes any discomfort. For certain procedures,
your surgeon may place a drain in your ear that can usually be
removed after one day.
one month, your head bandage will be replaced with a lighter
head dressing that is similar to a headband. Your surgeon will
provide you with specific directions about how long you must
wear this dressing and how to manage it while you sleep. After
about a week, your stitches will be removed or be dissolved,
depending on the style of stitching your surgeon has chosen.
Your surgeon will provide you with more specific recommendations
and directions for your individual recovery.
are the possible complications after ear surgery?
from ear surgery are infrequent and minor when performed by a
qualified, experienced surgeon. However, as with any surgical
procedure, there are certain potential risks and complications.
One potential complication is the formation of a blood clot under
the skin of the ear. Fortunately, this occurs in only a small
percentage of patients. The clot may naturally dissolve or be
withdrawn through a needle. Another complication is an infection
that may develop in the ear cartilage. This may result in the
formation of scar tissue. Antibiotics are the usual course of
treatment, although surgical drainage may be required. It is
always important to be informed about the possible complications
before any surgery. Be sure to discuss any concerns you may have
with your surgeon.
results can I expect after ear surgery?
you return home from your surgery, you will want to have someone
with you for at least the first 12 hours as you begin your recovery
period. Your ears will be somewhat sore and you may still be
feeling the effects of the anesthesia, whether it is local or
general. For the long term, your expectations should be realistic.
The goal of your operation should be great improvement, but not
perfection. The ears average of an average person are not an
exact match, so don't expect the symmetry of your ears to be
picture-perfect after your surgery. However, with realistic goals,
you can expect your ear surgery to produce dramatic, pleasing
results that last an entire lifetime.