Otoplasty, which is also known more commonly as ear surgery, can improve the shape, position or proportion of the ear in relation to the rest of the head. Ear surgery can be used to correct a defect in the ear structure that is present at birth or that becomes apparent with development. Injured, misshapen ears can also be treated using this procedure. A more natural shape and balanced proportions for the ears and face can be created through otoplasty.
Some people choose to have otoplasty to correct a structural abnormality. Others have it because their ears protrude too far from their head and don’t like it. Correction of even minor deformities can have profound beneﬁts to appearance and self-esteem so if protruding or disﬁgured ears bother you or your child, you may consider ear surgery.
Good candidates for otoplasty can range from five years of age and older. Around the age of five, the ear cartilage begins to stabilize enough for correction. Good candidates are those who are able to communicate their feelings and goals for the surgery, may have macrotia (also known as overly large ears), and/or dissatisfaction with previous ear surgery.
Before Otoplasty Surgery
Some people may have small ears or ears that haven’t completely developed. In these cases, they may want to have otoplasty to increase the size of their outer ear in the form of ear augmentation. Another type of otoplasty is known as ‘ear pinning.’ This involves drawing the ears closer to the head. It’s performed on individuals whose ears stick out prominently from the sides of their head. People with macrotia may choose to have an ear reduction otoplasty to reduce the size of their ears.
Before having your procedure, you’ll need to have a consultation with your surgeon. During this time, Dr. Hashemian will review your medical history. Be prepared to answer questions about medications you’re taking, past surgeries, and any current or previous medical conditions. He will evaluate the shape, size, and placement of your ears and may take measurements or pictures. Dr. Hashemian will talk to you about the procedure itself, the associated risks, and potential costs. He will also want to hear about your expectations for the procedure.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions if something is unclear or you feel like you need more information.
Dr. Hashemian will introduce an IV anesthetic at the start of the procedure. The specific surgical technique that’s used will depend on the type of otoplasty you’re having. Generally speaking, otoplasty involves making an incision, either on the back of your ear or inside the folds of your ear. Once done, the surgeon begins manipulating the tissue of the ear, which can include removal of cartilage or skin, folding and shaping of cartilage with permanent stitches, or grafting of cartilage to the ear. Once done, Dr. Hashemian will begin closing the incisions with stitches.
Following your procedure, you’ll have a dressing placed over your ears. Be sure to keep your dressing clean and dry. Additionally, try to avoid touching or scratching at your ears, sleep in a position which does not rest on your ears, or wear clothes you must pull over your head.
In some cases, you may also need to have stitches removed. Your doctor will let you know if this is necessary. Some types of stitches dissolve on their own.
Common post surgery side effects
Sore, tender, or itchy ears, redness, swelling, bruising, and numbness/tingling are common side effects during the recovery period. Your dressing will stay in place for about a week. After it’s removed, you’ll need to wear an elastic headband for another 4 to 6 weeks. You can wear this headband at night. Your doctor will let you know when you can return to various activities.
What are the risks or precautions to be aware of?
A bad reaction to the anesthesia, bleeding, infection, ears that are not symmetrical or unnatural, scarring around the incision sites, temporary changes in skin sensations, and/or suture extrusion are also possible situations to be aware of prior to undergoing an otoplasty.
Is otoplasty covered by insurance?
Otoplasties typically aren’t covered by insurance since they’re often considered cosmetic. That means you may have to pay costs out of pocket. Some plastic surgeons may offer a payment plan to help with costs. You can ask about this during your initial consultation.
In some cases, insurance may cover otoplasty that helps relieve a medical condition.
Be sure to talk with your insurance company about your coverage before the procedure.
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