Otoplasty is a common procedure that can help children and adults who have protruding ears, ears that are too large, or other ear irregularities. Otoplasty is, in fact, the most common plastic surgical procedure performed on children. A normal child’s ears are fully formed by the age of five or six and are easily the most prominent feature on their head. It is generally recommended that a child receive ear surgery before he or she begins school in order to thwart any teasing, ridicule, or bullying. Ear surgery can be performed at anytime after the ears are fully developed.
Adults who opt for the surgery should plan to take one to two weeks off from work, depending on their occupation.
Most otoplasty procedures are done in-office under local anesthesia. However, children who have difficulty sitting still may require sedation at the hospital. The procedure generally takes one hour per ear. Incisions are made behind the ear through which excess cartilage and skin are removed. This reshapes the ear and brings it closer to the head. Other incisions may be necessary on ears with further deformities. These incisions are small, and any scarring will be minor and will fade with time. Permanent stitches are often used to maintain the new shape.
Unlike many facial features, the ears are not especially prone to discoloration, swelling, or pain. Pain medication can be prescribed if necessary, but over-the-counter pain relievers usually are sufficient.
A compression garment must be worn day and night for one week following surgery. If the post-op recovery and healing goes well, then the garment can be worn only at night for an additional week. The exterior sutures are small and are left in for several weeks.
Otoplasty patients can expect to return to normal activity within several days. Children should be closely monitored so that they do not disturb the sutures. Any rough play or overexertion should be avoided for the first few weeks.
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