Few facial imperfections are as conspicuous as protruding, oversized or distorted ears. Children with this trait may be teased by their classmates, hurting their self-image, and adults can likewise be insecure about the appearance of unnatural-looking ears. Fortunately, this problem can be corrected through a surgery known as otoplasty, in which the ears are either set back closer to the head, reshaped or reduced in size.
Who Can Get Otoplasty?
- Otoplasty can be performed when the ears have nearly grown to adult size—usually by age five or six. If you believe your child is a candidate for this procedure, we recommend that you seek this procedure sooner rather than later, to spare the psychological scars of being teased by their peers.
- Any generally healthy adult may get otoplasty, which is often performed in conjunction with other facial plastic surgeries. Adult candidates should realize that their fully developed ears have firmer cartilage than in children’s ears, which can make it more difficult for the surgeon to mold.
What Does Otoplasty Involve?
- Ear surgery usually takes between two to three hours to complete. Young children receive general anesthesia, while older children and adults can receive local anesthesia combined with sedation.
- The procedure begins with an incision behind the ear, in the fold that joins the ear to the head. In some cases, Dr. Goldman will then remove enough cartilage and skin to make the ears protrude less.
- In other instances, Dr. Goldman won’t remove cartilage but will reshape it, and may use sutures to hold the ears permanently in place.
What is Recovery Like?
- Soft dressings applied to the ears will remain for a few days. External stitches will dissolve or can be removed in about a week.
- The procedure may be followed by mild to moderate aching, pain and numbness, which prescription pain medication can alleviate. Swollen or red skin may also occur.
- You can typically return to work or school within five to seven days. However, you should avoid contact sports and strenuous activities for one or two months.
- You cannot put pressure on the ear areas for a week or more after the surgery—meaning that you can’t sleep on your side.
- Otoplasty leaves a thin scar that is well hidden behind the ear.