Otoplasty is a cosmetic surgery to improve the appearance of the ears. The procedure can take many forms: bringing the ears closer to the head (commonly called ear pinning), reducing the size of very big ears, or reshaping various bends in the cartilage. A successful otoplasty makes the ears more proportional to the size and shape of the head and face.
Is Otoplasty Right for You?
Otoplasty is typically performed on children beginning at the age of four, when ears are almost fully-grown. The general rule is that the earlier the surgery, the better. Cartilage in young children is extremely pliable, thus allowing for greater ease of shaping.
Ear surgery on adults is also possible, and there are generally no additional risks associated with ear surgery on an older patient.
How is the surgery performed?
The surgery begins with an incision made behind the ear, in the fold where the ear is joined to the head. Otoplasty usually involves the surgical removal or repositioning of cartilage and skin to achieve the right effect. In some cases, the cartilage is trimmed to shape it into a more desirable form, and then pinned back with permanent sutures to anchor the ear until healing can naturally hold it in place.
What to expect after surgery
If the procedure is done under general anesthesia the patient will have to stay for one night in our facility under the direct observation of a private nurse. Local cryotherapy will be applied to reduce edema and bruising. The morning after the surgery, Dr. Lanfranchi will replace the dressings and determine whether the patient can be discharged to the recovery facility.
If the procedure is done under local anesthesia, the patient may be discharged on the day of the surgery, with follow up visits scheduled to closely monitor progress.
Patients will need to wear a bandage during the night for four weeks to protect the ears during sleep. It is advised to rest as much as possible for one week after the surgery, and to avoid vigorous physical activity for at least 15 days.
Otoplasty patients report mild discomfort after surgery, but this can be treated with pain relievers and normally subsides within a week. There will be a thin scar behind the ear, however if the scar is placed in the natural creases, it is not normally visible.
Risks of Otoplasty
Ear surgery can have a few complications, most of which are minor. These would include bleeding, infection, asymmetry, temporary or permanent numbness, visible folding of the ear cartilage, and prominence of the scar behind the ear.
Occasionally, patients may develop an infection in the cartilage, which can cause scar tissue to form. Such infections are usually treated with antibiotics. In rare cases, surgery may be required to drain the infected area.
A small percentage of patients may develop a blood clot on the ear. This may be left to dissolve naturally, but can also be drawn out with a needle.
For more information about Otoplasty, or to schedule a consultation, please contact Dr. Lanfranchi.