Having prominent ears that stick out unusually far from your head can make anyone feel self-conscious–regardless of age. For this reason, many adults and children seek otoplasty, or ear surgery, to correct overly prominent ears. Statistics show that otoplasty is a highly satisfying procedure for the majority of patients, with a satisfaction rate above 95 percent.
Prominent ears are caused by a defect in the ear cartilage structure, which basically means that ear cartilage has failed to properly fold. With ear surgery, Dr. Will can correct ear folds and improve the proportional and aesthetic relationship of the head and ears.
Who is a good candidate for an ear surgery procedure?
If you (or your child) are experiencing any of the following issues, you may be a good otoplasty candidate:
- Protruding, prominent ears
- Disproportionately dominant ears
- Ear asymmetry
- Ear trauma
Most cosmetic surgeons agree that the sooner ear surgery is performed, the better. For this reason, it is very common for children to undergo otoplasty. The ears become fully developed very early, so there is no reason to wait if you or your child could benefit from an ear surgery procedure. Otoplasty has been successfully performed on children as young as 5 years old and is safe for adults of any age, provided they are in good health.
How is otoplasty performed?
Ear surgery typically involves general or sedation anesthesia when it is performed on young children, as this helps them remain still during the procedure and prevents them from being frightened by unfamiliar sights and sounds in the surgical suite. For adults, ear surgery procedure can usually be performed using only local anesthesia, which dramatically reduces the immediate post-op recovery period.
During otoplasty, Dr. Will makes a small incision behind each ear and then removes excess tissues and remodels the cartilage and skin to effectively “pin back” the ears. Incisions are closed with dissolvable or removable sutures, and the entire procedure takes roughly 2-3 hours to perform.
Ear surgery is always performed on both ears, even if only one ear appears to be sticking out, as this ensures symmetry and an overall better cosmetic result.
Ear surgery scars are very inconspicuous, as they can be easily hidden in the natural folds where the ears meet the head.
After Ear Surgery
The otoplasty recovery period is approximately 1-2 weeks, and most of this recovery time (as we tell our Washington, DC area ear surgery patients) is due to the fact that a special headband must be worn to hold the ears in their new position during this time. Depending on your comfort level wearing the headband in public, your recovery time after ear surgery may be quite short. Most patients are capable of returning to work and school, as well as resuming normal daily activities, within a few days of the procedure.
Many parents choose to keep young children out of school for two weeks after ear surgery in order to minimize the likelihood that their final results will be compromised with rough or careless play. In general, any strenuous activity should be avoided for 3-6 weeks after ear surgery, and patients should be very gentle with their ears.
You can expect swelling and bruising to mostly subside with the first week of surgery and begin enjoying your final ear surgery results within three months. After otoplasty, you will likely be less self-conscious about your ears, as they will now neither dominate your other features nor draw unwanted attention.