When the ears are overly large, protrude significantly from the side of the head, or have an irregular shape, individuals may feel self-conscious about their appearance. With otoplasty, the ears can be repositioned or contoured to improve balance among facial features. Depending on your aesthetic goals, otoplasty can be performed either unilaterally (on one side) or bilaterally (on both sides).
What Can Otoplasty Do for Me?
Though the procedure can be performed on adults as well, in many cases, children benefit the most from otoplasty. Young children in social environments may be particularly prone to embarrassment or subject to teasing as a result of overly large ears. Repositioning or reshaping the ears for improved facial harmony can boost a child’s self-esteem as well as reduce the likelihood of teasing. Many adult patients also choose otoplasty for the aesthetic benefits and to reduce what may have been life-long self-consciousness about the appearance of their ears. While the benefits yielded by this procedure are dependent on each patient’s reasons for surgery, otoplasty can generally:
- Position or pin the ears closer to the side of the head
- Change the proportions, size, or shape of the ears
- Correct congenital deformities (birth defects) in the ears
Who Is a Candidate for Otoplasty?
Otoplasty candidates often possess one or more of the following traits:
- Overly large ears
- Significantly protruding ears
- Stahl’s ear (a pointy ear shape and misshapen cartilage)
- Ear lidding (misshapen cartilage at the top of the ear)
- Constricted or cupped ear
- Enlarged conchal bowls
- Missing antihelical folds
Ideal candidates for otoplasty typically have one or more ear abnormalities or ears that protrude far from the side of the head. In children, ears that protrude more than 9 mm (millimeters) from the head are often good candidates for otoplasty. In adults, a 20 mm protrusion typically indicates candidacy. Dr. Geoffrey E. Leber—our board-certified plastic surgeon—will perform a physical exam during the initial consultation, discuss your cosmetic goals, and determine if otoplasty is suited for your needs. He recommends that children be at least five years old before undergoing otoplasty. At that age, the ears are usually 90% grown or more, optimizing the final result.
How Is Otoplasty Performed?
Using an incision behind the ear or in the natural crease of the inner ear, Dr. Leber is able to reposition the ear closer to the side of the head, reshape the cartilage, and effectively conceal the scar. Depending upon the age and health of the patient, otoplasty can be performed under local or general anesthesia. Otoplasty is an outpatient procedure that can typically be completed in one hour and patients may return home that same day.
What Is Recovery Like for Otoplasty?
When patients return home after otoplasty, the ears will be covered in dressings. Mild bruising and swelling can be expected, though any discomfort can be managed with oral pain medication. After the initial dressings are removed, Dr. Leber recommends patients temporarily wear a protective headband around the ears at night during sleep. The results of otoplasty can be seen immediately and should continue to improve as swelling decreases and the natural healing process progresses.
To learn more about otoplasty, or to schedule a consultation, please contact us today.