An otoplasty is a surgery procedure that aims to improve the balance and shape of the external ear. This is often done by reshaping the ear cartilage itself. The most common reason people seek an otoplasty is for prominent or protruding ears.
Most commonly the procedure is done before self-image is formed and the cartilage hardens (around age 5). However, an otoplasty can also be performed in adults.
How Otoplasty is Performed
There are a number of variations of otoplasty technique that are unique to the problem to be corrected. For prominent ears, Dr. Robin Evans—our skilled plastic surgeon—performs a combination of cartilage scoring and suture techniques to restore a more normal appearance. The cartilage scoring technique is very effective in producing a natural appearing ear that does not rely on sutures to keep its position, therefore giving a long-lasting result. By weakening the cartilage at the front of the ear, Dr. Evans is able to shape the folds of the ear and help restore normal anatomy and appearance. Sutures are used to help position the ear and secure the correction. The incisions are all hidden behind the ear and are closed with dissolving sutures.
Who is a Candidate for an Otoplasty?
Children around the age of 5 years old with prominent ears who do not have significant illness or untreated chronic ear infections are generally good candidates for an otoplasty. Adults or teenagers who are non-smokers and are concerned about the appearance of their ears are candidates.
What is the Recovery from an Otoplasty Like?
An otoplasty is not particularly painful. Tylenol and Advil are typically used for pain the first few days. A dressing is applied in the operating room that is left on a for a week. There are usually some dressings that are sewn in with dissolving sutures and typically come off in a week or two. Use of a headband helps to shape the ears and is suggested for a few months after the operation, especially at night.
What are the Risks of an Otoplasty?
An otoplasty is performed under a general anesthetic in the hospital. The general risks of having an operation include infection, bleeding, scarring, and having a general anesthetic. Specific to otoplasty is the possibility of a collection of blood in the ear called a hematoma. This is reduced by our sewn-in dressings and by having people wear the head-wrap for the first week. The risk of a hematoma is low but does occasionally happen.