What it is
Generally performed on children, otoplasty is a minor cosmetic surgery that corrects protruding ears. Otoplasty can be done on adults as well to pin back ears, reduce ear size, amend ear shape, or correct torn ear lobes.
Children whose ears have arrived at a mature size and shape, usually by seven or eight years old, are good candidates for otoplasty. Excellent candidates are children whose ears have just reached full size as their ear cartilage is more malleable. For adults with asymmetrical or protruding ears, consultation with the doctor is the ideal way to determine the strength of candidacy for otoplasty.
For younger children, it is recommended that otoplasty be performed under general anesthesia; for older children and adults, otoplasty can be done with a local anesthetic and sedative. Otoplasty surgery lasts about two hours. Otoplasty incisions are made behind the ear, hiding scars. Cartilage and skin are removed as necessary in otoplasty to reshape the ear or move it closer to the head. Permanent sutures are required to keep the cartilage closer to the head in otoplasty, but they are not painful or visible.
Otoplasty is a very safe procedure. Complications from otoplasty are uncommon but can include blood collection, known as hematoma, on the ear or infected cartilage. Otoplasty does not affect hearing.
Otoplasty recipients will need household help for a couple of days, and within a week of otoplasty, patients can return to school or work. After otoplasty, patients will wear a heavy bandage for a few days, which will be replaced with another head dressing for a couple weeks. There may be pain and discomfort after otoplasty, which can be negotiated with prescription medication. Physical activity should be restricted for two to three weeks after otoplasty. Otoplasty recipients (and their family and friends) are asked to make sure the ears are not bent forward during the healing process.