Ear Plastic Surgery
The prominent ear is a prevalent deformity and occurs in roughly 5% of children. You may notice that multiple members of your family have this condition. Several factors may contribute to the development of prominent ears, but its inheritance as an autosomal dominant trait is probably the most important. The condition may be bilateral (both ears) or unilateral (one ear).
Ear shape correction, also known as Otoplasty or ear surgery, is intended to improve the appearance of ears that protrude further from the head than desired. Historically, there have been many techniques described for the repair of this congenital problem. They have evolved from cartilage cutting to cartilage folding and suturing to create the normal ear.
Otoplasty is used to reposition the ears back into a natural position and/or improve the appearance of an abnormally-shaped ear, such as lop ear or cup ear. The ears are commonly made to appear smaller and/or less prominent. With children, it is best to undergo the procedure around six years of age or older. At this age, the ear has achieved at least 90% of it adult size and children seem more compliant with the treatment. More importantly, the intervention is early enough to prevent the damaging effects of remarks that often come once schooling begins.
The surgery is usually planned before the socialization process and after major ear growth (around four to five years old). The correction may be performed anytime during childhood. This certainly permits less social trauma to the child, softer ears to sculpt, and full (or almost full) ear growth before treatment. Most otoplasty surgery for children is done between the ages of four and fourteen. This is also around the time that young boys and girls are beginning to go to school. With prominent or overly large ears, these patients can potentially be the target of ridicule from other kids. From a social perspective, the timing of otoplasty around this age is considered nearly ideal if it can help avoid this type of unwanted social pressure. That being said, a significant number of Precision Medical’s otoplasty patients are quite older. Many patients, for one reason or another, simply do not have their surgery performed early on in life. Instead, they present as young adults, middle-aged and even elderly patients seeking otoplasty.
In younger patients (usually 5-15 years old), otoplasty is typically done under a general anaesthetic or IV sedation. In older patients, otoplasty can be done under local anaesthesia with or without oral sedation. The ears are injected with a novacaine-like solution that provides a complete numbing sensation.
The ear shaping is accomplished through the incision on the back of the ear. This includes the creation of the antihelix, reduction and repositioning of the conchal bowl, and reshaping of the lobule of the ear as necessary. For the most part, these manoeuvres are done with the use of permanent sutures that hold the ear in its new position and shape.
Once the ear reshaping has been completed, the incision is closed behind the ear with absorbable sutures. In this manner, there are really no sutures that need to be removed in the postoperative period.
At the termination of the operation, the Precision surgeon will administer a long-acting anaesthetic thereby minimizing pain for 3 to 5 hours. Pain medication is prescribed and should be used as needed. There is minimal pain after the first day, however, the bulky dressing which must be left on for 3 days is often a source of annoyance. This keeps the gentle compression intact. We do recommend that you wear a ski band to sleep for 1-2 months after surgery to avoid folding of the ear.
There should be no heavy lifting, strenuous activity or “straining” for two more weeks. Return to work or other more specific activities should be addressed with the physician/nurse since there can be a high degree of variability in demand and a plan can often be developed to enable you to return to more normal activity faster.