Plastic surgery to change the shape of the ears is referred to as Otoplasty. This procedure can change the shape of your ears in a number of ways to improve its appearance, and put it in balance with the rest your face. It is usually performed to correct protruding or excessively large ears. Surgery is possible at any age, and is frequently performed on adults. Children should wait until the ear has reached near full development around age 5 or 6. By correcting the ears before children enter school, potential psychological trauma can be avoided.
To understand otoplasty, first think of the ear as skin draped over a supporting framework of cartilage. It is the shape and position of the cartilage that creates the overall appearance of the ear. By changing the shape of the cartilage, we change the way the skin drapes over it, and the overall appearance of the ear.
The otoplasty operation is usually done through a small incision hidden on the back of the ear, near the crease. When this incision heals, the scar is usually inconspicuous and well-hidden. Once the incision is made, the cartilage is reshaped and the ear set back closer to the head to create the desired look. After surgery, a gauze bandage is worn for several days to make sure the ears heal in their new, more natural position. Any stitches are removed in 7 – 10 days.
The operation itself is usually done under local anesthesia (patient awake) with sedation. Surgical time for both ears is approximately 1 to 2 hours depending on the amount of surgery being performed. The procedure is done on an out-patient basis, so you can go home the same day.
Expect to have minimal discomfort, swelling, and bruising after the surgery. The results of your otoplasty will be apparent as soon as the bandage is removed, and you will continue to notice improvement over the following weeks as the swelling around the folds of the ear disappears.
Although the operation is usually straight-forward and uncomplicated, problems can sometimes happen as with any operation. These possible complications include excessive bleeding after the surgery, infection, scarring, asymmetry, and rarely unfolding of the new position of the ear. Although all of these problems are very unusual, it is important that every patient be well informed about the procedure, the options available and the potential problems. Write down a list of questions and concerns to discuss with your doctor and the time of your visit.
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