Otoplasty surgery is done mostly to correct prominent ears, and or repairing defects from injury or birth, with the aim of achieving cosmetic results. It is done on both children and adults.
The surgical procedure can differ depending on the individual circumstances of the patient, it general involves the following. Initially, the surgeon will make a small incision behind the ear. This is with the aim of exposing the cartilage. If the surgeon deems it necessary, small pieces of cartilage might be removed. In order to achieve the desired position and shape of the ears, the remaining structure will then be scored and stitched.
It is also worth mentioning that although Otoplasty is most commonly performed on both ears, in some cases it can be performed on just one. This would be the case if a patient has experienced injury to a particular side of the face.
An ear corrective procedure will not repair any issues that you have with hearing, nor will it change the location of the ears.
Reasons why you might be considering Otoplasty surgery
The reasons motivating a patient to go through the Otoplasty process can differ, however the list below covers some of the most common.
- You are unhappy with the shape of your ears and feel that they are disproportionate to the rest of your face/head.
- You feel that your ears stick out too far from your head.
- You are not happy with previous surgery performed on your ears and as such, want to make further corrections.
Otoplasty is done on both children and adults
Why do some people have prominent ears?
It is widely accepted that should the angle of the outer ears fall between 20-35 degrees, then the ear-to-head ratio is considered proportionate. However, should this angle exceed 35 degrees, then the ears are considered to be sticking out. There are a number of reasons why an individual might be in receipt of prominent ears, with family heritage one of the most common.
Moreover, if the pinna is experiencing overdeveloped cartilage, this can also lead to prominent ears. On the other hand, if the cartilage is underdeveloped, then this can result in the ear being unable to fold properly and as such, causes the ear to stick out. Outside of heredity causes, the sufferance of an injury can also lead to the ears appearing prominent.
Preparing for the otoplasty
Initially, the surgeon will spend some time going through your medical history. Although the Otoplasty procedure might sound somewhat straightforward, it is crucial that you inform the surgeon of any past or existing medical conditions, as well as any medication you are currently taking. Regarding the ears, this will include any infections previously or currently experienced.
Once your medical condition has been discussed, the surgeon will then proceed with the physical examination. This will centre on the size, shape, placement and symmetry of your ears, to determine the best course of treatment available. Moreover, it might be necessary to take photos of your ears.
The final stage of the consultation period will involve a comprehensive discussion on your goals and expectations. You will have the opportunity to explain why you are thinking about Otoplasty surgery and what you are hoping to achieve in terms of appearance.
Prior to concluding the consultation, the doctor will then proceed to explain all of the risks associated with Otoplasty surgery, to ensure that you have a comprehensive understanding of what is involved.
About the procedure
Prior to arriving for surgery, there a number of specificities that you should consider. In terms of medication, it is best to avoid anything that contains aspirin for at least 10 days prior to the date of the procedure. Furthermore, any medications that contain anti-inflammatory properties – including but not limited to Nuprin and Advil, should be avoided for at least 4-7 days prior to surgery.
On the day before surgery, you should also ensure that you do not eat or drink anything 6 hours leading up to the procedure. The reason for this is to reduce the risks of anaesthetic complications, which can increase when the stomach is full. If you are a smoker, it is highly advisable to limit the amount you smoke both prior to and after surgery. This will have the desired effect of reducing the threats of bleeding.
Finally, it is also advisable to arrange for somebody to collect you from the surgery once the procedure is complete.
Prior to starting the procedure itself, the anaesthetist will initially administer anaesthesia.
Although the underlying procedure of Otoplasty surgery can differ from patient-to-patient, in most cases the surgeon will then proceed to make incisions. Once again, this can depend on the goals of the procedure, however this will most commonly be within the inner creases of your ears, or on the back of your ears.
Removal of surplus cartilage
Not all procedures require it, but the surgeon might need to remove surplus cartilage. If so, and in order to better position it, the surgeon will then fold the cartilage and secure it with internal stiches.
Closing the incisions
Once the surgeon has achieved the desired size and shape of the ear(s), they will then proceed to close the incisions. The incisions will have surgical stitching applied, which will then allow any wounds to heal naturally.
Finally, the surgeon will then cover your ears with bandages, which will provide both support and protection of the affected area.
Ultimately, the specific step-by-step procedure will be outlined to you during the consultation stage, however in most cases surgery takes in the region of 2 hours.
Recovery & Aftercare
Once the Otoplasty surgery has concluded, you will need to wait for the effects of the anaesthesia to reduce. As previously mentioned, you will need to arrange for somebody to take you home, as you will not be in a fit state to drive.
It is highly likely that you will feel somewhat uncomfortable around the affected area and you might also experience itching. Your surgeon will recommend medication, to ease the pain. However, should the pain threshold increase upon taking the medication, contact a doctor immediately. Once home, you will then need to ensure that you concentrate on your road to recovery.
To avoid placing unnecessary force on your ear, you should avoid sleeping on your side. It is also a good idea to wear comfortable clothes that do not require you to lift your arms when getting dressed. Buttoned shirts and loose collars are ideal.
In the proceeding days after surgery, you will need to visit the practice to have your bandages removed. Once removed, you will most likely notice both red and swollen ears, however this is a common after-effect of having Otoplasty surgery. This will also be the first opportunity that you get to see the results of the procedure.
In most cases, your surgeon will advise you to wear a loose headband at night, which will further protect your ears. Please bear in mind that you will need to keep this on from anywhere between 2-6 weeks.
Regarding the stitches that were placed during surgery, these will either dissolve on their own, or they will need to be removed manually a few weeks after surgery.
Common Concerns (Risks)
In order to achieve your desired results, the procedure will be performed with the utmost care. However, as with all surgical operations, there will always be a range of risks that must be presented to you. In order to provide you with the potentialities, we have compiled a list below.
- Additional bleeding in the affected area
- Impairment of hearing
- Numbness in and/or around the skin area of the face or ears.
- The formation of scaring around the affected area.
- The skin associated with the cartilage – otherwise referred to as chondritis, could potentially become infected.
- There is also the possibility – as with all cosmetic procedures, that the end result does not meet your initial expectations. If this is the case, then the surgeon will be happy to discuss further options, which could include secondary surgery.
Frequently Asked Questions
We have compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions we receive. If the answer you are looking for appears to be missing, please feel free to contact the surgery for further clarity.
What are the costs associated with Otoplasty surgery?
As no two surgeries are the same, the cost of Otoplasty will depend on a number of underlying factors. This can be anything from the type of anaesthesia required, the needs and requirements to meet your expectations, any medications that need to be supplied or the level of after-care needed. Upon going through the consultation process, the surgeon will advise you of all the necessary fees, alongside a breakdown of each cost.
Who is Otoplasty best suited for?
In most cases, those who have the desire to alter the proportion, size or shape of their ears – alongside realistic expectations of what kind of results they are likely to expect. Moreover, it is also a fundamental requirement that patients are in good overall health, which will be ascertained during the pre-surgery examination process.
Upon leaving the clinic, what will I look like?
Upon completing the procedure, the surgeon will apply a headband over your ears. This is highly fundamental, as not only will it provide additional support to your ears, but it will also significantly reduce the threats of infection. Moreover, although your ears will be swollen, you will not initially see this as the bandage will prevent you from seeing the results until it is removed.
Is there a recommended age to have Otoplasty surgery?
In most cases, Otoplasty is suitable for all ages. However, if the surgery is being planned for your child, they need to be at least 5 years old. The reason for this is that the child’s ears will still be developing.
Will my insurance cover my Otoplasty surgery?
In most cases no, as the vast majority of procedures are performed for cosmetic purposes. However, if you are looking to undergo surgery in response to a particular injury, it could well be worth contacting your insurance provider.
Does Otoplasty surgery hurt?
You should not feel any discomfort or pain during the procedure, as the surgeon will administer anaesthesia at the initial stage of the operation. However, it is highly likely for the proceeding days and even weeks after surgery, the affected area will feel somewhat sore. Nevertheless, the surgeon will be able to advise you as to what medication will alleviate the discomfort.
When will I be able to see the result of my Otoplasty?
As you will have a bandage applied post-surgery, you will not be able to see the results until this is removed. However, in most cases the surgeon will be able to remove the bandage a few days after the procedure, which will be your first opportunity to see the result.
How long does Otoplasty surgery take?
Although the length of surgery differs depending on the patient’s personal circumstances and individual goals, Otoplasty normally takes in the region of 1.5 to 2 hours to complete. However, please bear in mind that there is no hard and fast rule as to how long it will take. The most important priority for the surgeon is to ensure the safety and well-being of the patient.