Some people are born with prominent ears. This is not uncommonly a source of embarrassment. Children and even adults can be teased or bullied about ears that are large, uneven or protruding. Many people wear their hair long to keep their ears covered. For children, protruding ears can be the source for cruel nicknames that can make a child self-conscious and have trouble adapting to school.
Otoplasty, or ear plastic surgery, is a relatively simple procedure that reshapes the ears. This procedure may be performed on children as young as four or five and it has a very high satisfaction rate. Even subtle changes to the position or shape of the ear can produce dramatic and life-changing results.
Ear Pinning Procedure
This procedure is usually performed under general anaesthesia, though it can be perform under sedation in select adults. An inconspicuous incision will be made behind the ear to manipulate the ear cartilage into the desired shape. Strategically placed permanent sutures are used to fold the ear cartilage to make the ears appear closer to the head and in proportion. The incision will then be closed. The procedure takes about 45-60 minutes for each ear.
The ears will be dressed and wrapped in a head bandage to maintain their position. This procedure typically results in minimal discomfort. Bandages will be removed the following day, but patients will be required to wear a sports headband for one week, then only at night for six weeks.
Recovery from ear surgery is typically very easy and short. Children usually return to school about five days after surgery, and adults may return to work and normal activities after five days as well. Ears may be a little red or swollen at this stage, but are usually very presentable. Contact sports and activity that may injure the ears should be avoided for two months. Patients will need to avoid sleeping on their side during the first week or two to avoid pressure on the healing ears.
The results of this procedure should last a lifetime. Some patients do require minor adjustments, however. Along with cosmetic improvements, this surgery offers a substantial boost to the patient’s self-confidence.
Swelling behind the ear is common for the first few weeks. The resulting scar from otoplasty will usually be a well-hidden thin, white line at the back of the ear.
Who is a Candidate?
This procedure creates a more natural shape and brings proportion to the ears and face. Both children and adults can benefit from this procedure. This surgery is most often performed on children aged five and older, usually before they begin school, but it can also be performed on teenagers and adults. While most patients have deformity of both ears, some patients only require surgery on one ear.
Candidates for this procedure are individuals with protruding, large or asymmetrical ears, or ears that have an irregular shape or are out of proportion with the face.
Risks of Ear Surgery
Overall, this procedure is safe and effective and risks are very rare. Potential risks of this procedure include prolonged swelling or redness, pain, bleeding under the ear skin, changes in sensitivity on or near the ears, skin loss and unsatisfactory results or recurrence of the protruding ears. These risks are minimised by choosing an experienced facial plastic surgeon to perform the procedure.
Changes to the regulations governing the use of before and after photographs on websites were introduced in NSW on July 1, 2008. These regulations can be viewed on the NSW Health Department website.
In accordance with that regulation, The Face Institute declares that:
- All the before and after photographs shown are of Dr Gerarchi’s patients.
- None of the photographs have been altered or embellished in any way.
- The results demonstrated are representative of the results achieved by Dr Gerarchi. They depict the results achieved by individual patients and are no guarantee of the outcome to be expected by any particular individual considering surgery.
- Sometimes an effect, such as morphing, has been added to the original untouched photographs to highlight the difference between the before and after photographs which has not altered the photos in any way.
What is otoplasty?
Ear surgery may be performed in many ways. It may be done to bring the ears closer to the head (ear pinning), reduce the size of prominent ears or reshape the ears. This procedure may be performed on children, teens or adults.
What is the best age for a child to have ear surgery?
Ear development usually reaches maturity at the age of 5 or 6. This is a good time to have your child’s ears evaluated by a plastic surgeon as the ears have finished growing. Many parents choose to have the procedure performed before a child begins school, at which point the child could be teased.
Is the surgery painful?
Some discomfort after surgery is normal. Patients are prescribed medication to control discomfort. After two or three days, over-the-counter medication is enough.
How soon can I return to work or school?
Most patients return to work or school after 3-7 days.
What can I expect during the recovery period?
Swelling and bruising are common, but usually resolve after a week. During the first day, a mild compression garment is worn to reduce swelling. The ears will seem larger and swollen at first. Most swelling dissipates within two to three days.
Please feel free free to call us on (02) 9412 4599 or email if you would like any additional information about this procedure.