Ear reshaping, also known as otoplasty, is a surgical procedure carried out to correct defects affecting the external ear.
The ear is divided into three parts; external ear, middle ear and inner ear. The external ear is made of folds of skin and cartilage (firm and flexible connective tissue) and consists of the auricle or pinna which is the visible part of the ear, and the external acoustic meatus which is the canal extending from the opening in the external ear to the inside of the ear.
Indications for surgery
Otoplasty is considered in children over the age of 5 years to normalize his/her appearance and in healthy adults for cosmetic reasons. Otoplasty is performed to:
- Pin back protruding ears
- Reduce the size of overly large ears
- Correct misshapen ears
- Reshape the ears following an injury
- Correct ear defects that are present at birth such as a small ear or absence of the external ear
- Correct inherited abnormalities of the ear
Otoplasty is usually performed under general anesthesia for children and local anesthesia for teenagers and adults.
Your surgeon begins the procedure by making a small incision in the groove behind the ear. The cartilage and skin are removed, folded or reshaped based on the requirement, and the cartilage is pinned back using sutures to hold the ear in its corrected position. In some cases, removal of cartilage may not be required and your surgeon may only use sutures to hold the cartilage in its normal position. The procedure is completed by closing the incision behind the ear with sutures.
Risks and complications
Otoplasty is generally a safe and successful procedure, but like all operations, there may be risks and complications associated with the procedure. General risks that are common with all surgical procedures include anesthesia related effects, wound infection, bleeding and blood clots, while specific risks of otoplasty include:
- Asymmetry of the ears due to an over correction
- Reduced sensation around the ears
- Scar formation
- Loosening of sutures used to reposition the ear
- Poor wound healing
Recovery and Post-operative care
The surgery will take approximately 2 hours. You may go home the same day or the next day following otoplasty depending on the technique used and the amount of correction made. You will be given home care instructions by your surgeon to ensure a successful recovery. You may be able to resume normal activities in a week’s time; but complete recovery may take around 6 weeks.
Post procedure concerns would include the following:
- Your surgeon wraps a full head-bandage that needs to be kept intact for about a week to support the wound and help in healing.
- You will have to wear a headband for about 2 weeks or more after the bandages are removed, especially in the night to cover and protect your ears when rolling over in bed.
- You may experience swelling, bruising and redness that may take a few weeks to subside.
- You may have pain and discomfort, for which medicines may be prescribed.
- You may wash your hair once the bandage is removed.
Ear surgery provides permanent and immediate results which are visible once the dressing is removed.