Ear Reshaping (Otoplasty)
View Before and After PhotosProbably no other physical characteristic cries out for correction more than protruding ears. Children, long the victims of cruel nicknames like Dumbo or Mickey Mouse, are the most likely candidates for otoplasty, but this surgery can be performed at any age after the ears have reached full size, usually around five to six years of age. Even if the ears are only mildly distorted, the condition can lead to self-consciousness and poor adaptation to school. When it comes to otoplasty, conventional wisdom is the earlier the better.
Adults may also benefit from this procedure, which improves self-esteem with relative ease. Often, adults choose this surgery in conjunction with other surgical or non-surgical procedures. Not only is it possible to pin back ears, but ears can also be reshaped, reduced in size, or made more symmetrical.
If you are wondering how otoplasty can improve the way you look, you need to know how otoplasty is performed and what you can expect from this procedure. This pamphlet may address many of your concerns.
Is Otoplasty for you?
General good health and realistic expectations are prerequisites. It is also important to understand the surgery. Otoplasty will not alter hearing ability. What is important for successful otoplasty is that the ears be in proportion to the size and shape of the face and head.
When considering otoplasty, parents must be confident that they have their child’s best interests at heart. A positive attitude toward the surgery is an important factor, but it is especially critical when the patient is a child or adolescent.
Adult candidates for otoplasty should understand that the firmer cartilage of fully developed ears does not provide the same molding capacity as in children. A consultation with Dr. Bolourian can help parents decide what is best for their child, not only aesthetically, but also psychologically and physically. Timing is always an important consideration. Having the procedure at a young age is highly desirable in two respects: the cartilage is extremely pliable, thereby permitting greater ease of shaping; and secondly, the child will experience psychological benefits from the cosmetic improvement.
During the consultation, Dr. Bolourian will examine the structure of the ears and discuss possibilities for correcting the problems. Even if only one ear needs pinning back, surgery will probably be recommended on both ears to achieve the most natural, symmetrical appearance.
Typically, Dr. Bolourian will suggest a general anesthesia for young patients and a local anesthetic combined with a mild oral sedative for older children and adults. Otoplasty requires approximately two hours for both ears.
Surgery begins with small cuts just behind the ear, in the natural fold where the ear is joined to the head. Then the necessary amounts of cartilage and skin is removed to achieve the right effect. In some cases the cartilage is trimmed and shaped into a more desirable form and then pinned back with permanent sutures to secure the cartilage.
In other instances, the Dr. Bolourian does not remove any cartilage at all, using stitches to hold the cartilage permanently in place. After sculpting the cartilage to the desired shape, sutures are applied to anchor the ear until healing occurs to hold the ear in the desired position.
Soft dressings applied to the ears will remain for a few days. Most patients experience some mild discomfort. If you are accustomed to sleeping on your side, your sleep patterns may be disrupted for a week or so because you cannot put any pressure on the ear areas. Headbands are sometimes recommended to hold the ears in the desired position for two weeks after the surgery.
The risks are minimal. Because the cuts are in a natural crease behind the ear, the problem of visibility is inconsequential.