Ear surgery, also called otoplasty, can enhance the ears’ shape, proportion, or position. Some patients have defects in the appearance of the outer ear that were there at birth or became clear during puberty or early adulthood.
Ear surgery also may treat ears that were misshapen or deformed by injury. This procedure can provide a more pleasing shape and offer proportion and balance to your ears and face. Correcting even a minor imperfection can substantially benefit how you look and your self-confidence.
If having protruding or misshapen ears has always bothered you, otoplasty could be the solution.
Ear surgery can treat these conditions:
- Ears that are too large, which is called macrotia
- Protruding ears on one or both sides
- General dissatisfaction with earlier ear surgery
Ear Surgery Procedure
There are several types of ear surgery. Which is best for you depends on your anatomy and the opinion of your surgeon:
This is what is referred to as otoplasty. It focuses on correcting ears that stip out too much and improving symmetry. This procedure is done by reshaping the ear cartilage and may include taking out extra cartilage and loose skin.
After the surgery is finished, the surgeon will reposition the ears, so they are closer to your head. The goal is to make the ears less prominent and more balanced with your face and head.
This procedure corrects ears that protrude. This improves the ears’ shape and overall appearance
This is a minimally-invasive option that can be appropriate for patients who need minor alterations to their ear size or shape.
This procedure is done on earlobes to improve their appearance if they are torn, pierced, or otherwise experienced trauma that damaged how they look.
For example, some patients gauged their ears at a younger age, which put a large hole in the center of the earlobe by stretching the tissue.
This procedure helps ears that are too long and sagging. This problem can be from genetics or part of the aging process. Earlobe reduction surgery is a good choice if you find the earlobe tissue unattractive.
Ear Surgery Benefits
The benefits of otoplasty and related surgeries are:
- Can correct many structural issues with the ears: The surgeon will remove extra cartilage and skin, and possibly reposition the ears and pin them back. The surgery provides many benefits for people with overly large ears.
- Patients regain confidence: The ears might not be considered as important for one’s appearance as the eyes or nose. But if they are too big or small, or one is larger than the other, it can affect your appearance and self-confidence. Children can sometimes be bullied because of their large ears.
- Patients feel like they fit in: Having ears that are a normal shape and size can make the patient feel more normal and fit in better. Many patients have a whole new outlook on life after otoplasty.
- Reshape earlobes: The earlobe can show signs of age as well as wear and tear. For example, the weight of jewelry over the ears can stretch the earlobes.
- Better job prospects: While it is against the law for employers to discriminate against you based on your gender, sexual orientation, race, or appearance, the fact remains that looking ‘odd’ can work against you in the job market. Otoplasty will make your ears look normal, and this can boost your marketability.
Ideal Candidates For Ear Surgery
Do you think you need otoplasty or a related ear surgery? Ideal candidates for this procedure are:
At Least Five
By the time a child is five, the outside of the ear is near its adult size. At this time, the child could be a good candidate for ear surgery.
If you have noticed your child’s ears may be too large or small, then you may consider this procedure after age five. But don’t do it before then because the ears are still developing.
No More Than 65
Most surgeons don’t take patients who are more than 65. This is because being in good health is essential to a successful recovery.
But if you are over 65 and still in good health, the surgeon may approve you for ear surgery. It’s important that you don’t have serious medical problems, eat healthy, and exercise.
The best candidate for this procedure is someone who doesn’t smoke. If you smoke, you cannot smoke or consume tobacco for at least six weeks before and after the procedure. Smoking can interfere with the healing process.
You also should not vape because having nicotine in your system increases the blood pressure.
In Good Health
As with any plastic surgery, you need to be healthy, especially the heart and lungs. This ensures that it’s safe to put you under general anesthesia.
The surgeon may have an EKG or X-ray done to see how healthy your heart is, especially in your 60s.
Have Reasonable Expectations
You can be an ideal candidate in every respect, but it’s essential to have realistic expectations. The procedure can make a big difference in how you look, but you might not be satisfied if you are overly concerned with your appearance.
Surgery Preparation For Ear Surgery
Preparing for ear surgery means you will need a medical examination and blood tests to determine if you are ready for the procedure. You also should not smoke for at least a month before and after the ear surgery.
Don’t take aspirin or other drugs that can increase bleeding. Also, have a bed or couch ready at home before surgery so you can get plenty of rest when you get home. Have your prescription pain medication ready, too.
The more you have done in advance before the procedure, the better. This means having meals made ahead to time, so you don’t have to worry about anything other than resting for a few days.
Also, you will need someone to take you home from the surgical center because you will be recovering from the anesthesia.
Ear Surgery Risks And Complications
Ear surgery, like other procedures, has risks. All surgeries have a risk of excessive bleeding, infection, and an allergic reaction to anesthesia.
Specific risks associated with ear surgery are:
- Scarring: The scars are usually hidden by the ears or in the ear creases, but excessive scarring may require additional surgery.
- Asymmetry: The surgeon will try to make the ears match each other, but not every surgery can correct asymmetry.
- Skin sensation changes: The ears may be repositioned during surgery, so there may be temporary changes in sensation.
- Issues with stitches: Stitches that keep the ears in place may come to the surface and need removal. This can cause inflammation and additional surgery may be needed.
- Overcorrection: If too much correction is done, the ears may look too close to the head or be pinned back.
Ear Surgery Recovery
After the procedure, the surgeon will cover your ears in bandages to protect and support them. You will feel itching and mild pain for a few days, but this is controllable with the medications the surgeon gives you.
It’s important during the initial recovery period to keep pressure off the years, so don’t sleep on your sides. It helps to wear shirts that you don’t need to pull over your head for the first two weeks.
About four days after otoplasty, the surgeon will take off the bandages. The ears will probably be red and swollen, and you may need to wear a headband to protect them at night. This can help to prevent pulling on the ears when you roll over.
The stitches may need to be removed or dissolve on their own, so ask your surgeon about this.
It’s important to avoid sneezing or coughing with your mouth open after ear surgery, so try to avoid it.
If you decide to have ear surgery, why not think about having other procedures in the same session?
If you have anesthesia and a month-long recovery from ear surgery, it may make sense to have other procedures simultaneously.
Some of the other procedures people choose with ear surgery include:
Ear Surgery FAQ
Below are some of the most frequent questions about ear surgery.
Can Children Have Ear Surgery?
Yes, but it’s usually best to wait until the child is old enough to be able to follow simple directions about aftercare.
Children who are under 5 should wait on ear pinning surgery until the ears have fully devloped.
Children who have frequent ear infiections aren’t ideal candidates; it’s best to treat the cause of the ear infections before cosmetic surgery.
When Should I Have Otoplasty?
Most people’s ears are fully grown by age 5, so any time after that is possible. If you have the procedure as an adult, age 30 to 50 is the most common time.
Will The Results Look Natural?
Yes, the results look natural. The idea of otoplasty is to reduce the size or change the position of the ears that looks entirely natural.
It’s critical to select a board-certified surgeon to ensure that the procedure is done to look as natural as possible.
Will My Insurance Pay For It?
This procedure isn’t usually covered by insurance because it’s a cosmetic procedure. But if the ear surgery is recommended by your doctor to reduce medical symptoms, it may be covered by your health insurance.
How Long Will It Take To See Results?
Most patients see results right away and are thrilled. But the final outcome will take a few weeks to manifest because of the swelling.
Will I Have Scars?
Scars aren’t visible when you have otoplasty. This is especially important to parents who are having their children go through the procedure. The incisions are usually at the back of the ear or in the folds, so scars cannot be seen.
How Much Time Off Work Do I Need?
Most patients take five to seven days off work after otoplasty and other ear procedures. But some go back to work after two or three days if the pain is manageable.
How Long Will The Results Last?
If the ears are moved or reduced in size, the results should be permanent.
Does Otoplasty Affect My Hearing?
No, your hearing doesn’t change from this procedure. Otoplasty and other procedures only affect the ears’ appearance, not their function. Changing the size, shape, or position of the ears doesn’t affect the ears’ internal structure.
Will I Need Antibiotics?
Infection is a risk with any surgery, so your surgeon may give you antibiotics as well as pain medications. Remember to take all of your antibiotics whether you have an infection or not.
If you can, consider working remotely so you can recover at home without needing to go into the office for a week or two.
Is Ear Surgery Worth It?
For patients who are dissatisfied with the shape, size, or position of their ears, otoplasty can be the solution. Talk to your board-certified surgeon today about how you want to change your ears, and they’ll tell you if this procedure is an option.
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