The team at New Jersey Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, P.A. is proud to offer a comprehensive menu of services to patients in the West Orange area. Ear surgery is one of several procedures that can improve a person’s sense of satisfaction with their appearance.
What is Otoplasty?
Otoplasty is the term that describes ear surgery performed to improve appearance in some way. Otoplasty may involve reshaping overly large ears or pinning ears that protrude noticeably from the head. This procedure does not affect hearing. It can, however, have a profoundly positive psychological impact on a child, teen, or adult who feel concerned about the way they look.
Who is a candidate for otoplasty surgery?
People of any age who feel self-conscious about their ears may be good candidates for otoplasty, although it is typically performed on children between 4 and 14 years old. Ears are almost fully developed by the of age 4, so early surgery can help create self-confidence when a child begins going to school. Not everyone is a candidate for otoplasty; a patient must be in good general health and have realistic expectations of what it can do.
When is ear surgery needed?
Otoplasty may be sought for several different reasons. One of the most common is to bring protruding ears in closer to the head. This is referred to as ear pinning. Additionally, ear surgery may correct:
- Abnormally large ears
- Lopped ear construction, where the ear folds forward
- Microtia, or abnormally small ears
Can children undergo ear surgery?
Children may undergo ear surgery once their ears are no longer growing. This may occur by age 5, which can be advantageous due to the timing of starting elementary school.
What are the benefits of ear surgery?
Protruding or large ears do not present a medical concern. However, the appearance of the ears can cause emotional distress.
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The otoplasty procedure
Otoplasty is typically performed on an outpatient basis. The patient is under general anesthesia for the duration of the 2- to 3-hour procedure. Older children and adults may undergo otoplasty with local anesthesia and sedation to avoid general anesthesia. Even if only one ear needs correction, both ears may be operated on to ensure the most symmetrical result.
To refine the ears, incisions are made within the natural crease at the back of the ear at the junction of the scalp. Cartilage is then carefully manipulated to achieve the desired improvement. Technique may differ from one person to another. Some cases require minor skin removal, while others focus on bending cartilage in a way that minimizes protrusion of the ears. During your consultation, Dr. Citron will discuss the technique that will be utilized in your procedure.
After cartilage has been properly shaped, incisions are closed with sutures. A bandage is applied around the head to support the ears’ new position as healing progresses.
What is recovery like after otoplasty surgery?
Most patients feel normal within a few hours of their ear surgery. The ears may throb or ache for a few days. Comfort is maintained with prescription pain medication that should be taken as directed. After otoplasty, a surgical dressing is applied around the head, somewhat like a headband. This is worn for approximately one week to protect stitches and support the ears as they heal. The dressing can also prevent unexpected bumps to the ears. During the first two weeks of recovery, patients need to avoid sleeping on their side. Aside from this guideline, most normal activities can be resumed with 7 to 10 days.
Does ear surgery leave visible scarring?
Faint scars may remain after tissue has completely healed. However, scars resulting from incisions are located in discreet locations in natural creases. This makes them virtually invisible.
If my child has ear surgery, will their ears change as they grow?
The ears are one of the first areas of the body to reach full physical maturity. This is why children can undergo otoplasty as early as age 5. We are careful to confirm that the ears have reached their full size before scheduling ear surgery. After the necessary improvements have been made, they can be expected to last indefinitely.
Are there any risks to otoplasty?
The risk of complications after otoplasty is very low. Minor complications occur in only a small percentage of cases and are typically limited to infection in the cartilage of the ear or a small blood clot in the surgical area. Each of these may resolve on their own or with conservative medical treatment such as antibiotics. One of the most notable risks of otoplasty is that the patient will not be satisfied with the outcome of treatment. Realistic expectations are a critical aspect of cosmetic surgery of any kind. Complete symmetry between the ears is uncommon even in natural anatomy and is not likely after otoplasty.
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