What is otoplasty?
Otoplasty, which is also known as ear correction surgery or cosmetic ear surgery, is a surgical procedure to change the size, shape or position of the ears. Otoplasty is often associated with pinning ears back that appear as very protruding, so this is a common form of otoplasty carried out, but it is also known as pinnaplasty. Depending on the age of the patient, the intervention can be performed under general or local anaesthesia. Otoplasty can be carried out on children, but after the age of 5 years is recommended, as any younger and the ears will still be growing and developing. It is important to understand that otoplasty does not alter or affect your hearing, just the appearance of your ears.
Why is otoplasty done?
Otoplasty will be considered if your ears stick out a lot, if they appear as very large in proportion to your head, if you need to correct previous ear surgery, or if your ears have been damaged due to injury or congenital malformations.
What does otoplasty consist of?
Otoplasty can usually be carried out with local anaesthetic and is performed by either an otolaryngologist (ENT surgeon) or a plastic surgeon. A small incision is made behind the ear to gain access to the ear cartilage. Next, small sections of cartilage and skin are removed, depending on what results are being aimed for. Once done, the ear is positioned into place using scoring and stitching techniques. The whole procedure takes up to two hours. Newer techniques use special clips placed under the skin to reshape and reposition the ears.
Preparation for otoplasty:
Once you have been deemed healthy and suitable for surgery, your surgeon will advise you on any fasting required, which medications have to be stopped and any other requirements for having otoplasty. You will not be able to drive home after surgery, so making alternative arrangements beforehand will be necessary.
Otoplasty is often carried out as a day-case procedure, meaning the patient can return home on the same day. You will have bandages around your ears after the procedure for protection. You may experience some itching and discomfort, but painkillers can manage this. It is important to avoid putting pressure on your ears, so try not to sleep on your side or rubbing your ears. Wearing loose-fitting collars is also advised for comfort. Bandages should be worn during the day for the first few days, and afterwards just when sleeping for a couple of weeks. You should avoid swimming and other sports for several weeks to protect your ears. Stitches can be removed after 5-10 days, children can usually return to school after 1-2 weeks. Return to normal activities, such as swimming and contact sports can resume after 12 weeks.