Otoplasty, or ear reshaping surgery, is a cosmetic procedure to change the size, contours or positioning of the ears. If you are concerned about your appearance and are considering surgery, you probably have many questions about the procedure. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about ear reshaping surgery.
What are the different types of otoplasty?
The most common form of otoplasty is ear pinning surgery, used to make the ears less prominent by bringing them closer to the head. Otoplasty can also be used to make the ears appear smaller or larger or to reshape a portion of the ear, for example to make the earlobes smaller or remove a bump on the outer edge of the ear. Otoplasty can also be used to correct birth defects or damage due to trauma, such as a torn earlobe due to ear piercing. If only one ear is misshapen or protruding, the one ear can be altered surgically.
What is the best age to undergo otoplasty?
Unlike many forms of cosmetic surgery, ear reshaping surgery is commonly performed on children, in some cases as young as 5 years old. The ears generally reach their adult size around this time, and many parents believe that by having the procedure performed early, they can prevent bullying or teasing that might occur over prominent ears. Otoplasty is also commonly performed on teens and adults of all ages.
Who is a candidate for otoplasty?
Ideal candidates are those who wish to change the size, shape or proportion of their ears, and are realistic about the expected outcome of the procedure. Most patients who are in good overall health are medically able to undergo ear-reshaping surgery.
What happens during the surgery?
Otoplasty is performed with general anaesthesia, so you will not be awake during the surgery. The entire procedure usually takes one to two hours, during which time both ears will be corrected to ensure the most symmetrical, natural-looking result. The surgeon will make small incisions in front of, behind or in the skin creases of the ears. Through these incisions, the natural skin and cartilage can be trimmed, augmented, or recontoured. If prominent ears are a concern, internal sutures are used to reposition the ears closer to the head.
What can I expect after surgery?
You can return home after recovering from anaesthesia, though you will need someone to drive you. Following the surgery, some tenderness or discomfort is expected. Side effects such as swelling, bruising, and redness are common, and typically last about a week. The layer of surgical dressing over your ears may interfere with your hearing temporarily, though the surgery itself will not affect your ability to hear.
What can I do following surgery?
During the first week following surgery, wear a shirt that buttons and sleep on your back, with your head and neck elevated to reduce swelling. Avoid bending over, which increases pressure in the ear area. Most patients are back to work or school within a week to ten days, though strenuous exercise and contact sports should be avoided for a month.
What will I look like after surgery?
Immediately following otoplasty, your ears will be wrapped in surgical gauze with a soft headband to protect them and keep the gauze in place. Your ears will be swollen and bruised, but because they are covered, you may not notice this effect immediately.
What are the risks?
While otoplasty is generally very safe, there are a few potential complications. These include infection, visible scarring and asymmetry. Note that there is no risk of hearing change, as this procedure does not affect the inner ear.
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Past President – Australasian Academy of Facial Plastic Surgeons
Dr George Marcells is known for excellence in facial plastic surgery and is considered a true master of rhinoplasty. He performs advanced surgical techniques to restore balance and harmony to the face and can also resolve functional issues such as breathing difficulties.