If you’re considering otoplasty
Ear surgery, or otoplasty, is usually done to set prominent ears back closer to the head or to reduce the size of large ears.
For the most part, the operation is done on children between the ages of four and 14. Ears are almost fully grown by age four, and the earlier the surgery, the less teasing and ridicule the child will have to endure. Ear surgery on adults is also possible, and there are generally no additional risks associated with ear surgery on an older patient.
If you’re considering otoplasty for yourself or your child, this information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure-when it can help, how it’s performed, and what results you can expect. It can’t answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on your individual circumstances. Please be sure to ask Dr. Beals if there is anything you don’t understand about the procedure.
photo not actual patient
When ear surgery is performed by a qualified, experienced surgeon, complications are infrequent and usually minor. Nevertheless, as with any operation, there are risks associated with surgery and specific complications associated with this procedure.
A small percentage of patients may develop a blood clot on the ear. It may dissolve naturally or can be drawn out with a needle.
Occasionally, patients develop an infection in the cartilage, which can cause scar tissue to form. Such infections are usually treated with antibiotics; rarely, surgery may be required to drain the infected area.
Where the Surgery Will Be Performed
Ear surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure in a hospital, a doctor’s office-based surgical facility, or a freestanding surgery center. Occasionally, Dr. Beals may recommend that the procedure be done as an inpatient procedure, in which case you can plan on staying overnight in the hospital or the onsite overnight care facility.
In the initial meeting, Dr. Beals will evaluate your child’s condition, or yours if you are considering surgery for yourself, and recommend the most effective technique. He or she will also give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery.
With one of the more common techniques, Dr. Beals makes a small incision in the back of the ear to expose the ear cartilage. He or she will then sculpt the cartilage and bend it back toward the head. Non-removable stitches may be used to help maintain the new shape. Occasionally, Dr. Beals will remove a larger piece of cartilage to provide a more natural-looking fold when the surgery is complete.
Another technique involves a similar incision in the back of the ear. Skin is removed and stitches are used to fold the cartilage back on itself to reshape the ear without removing cartilage.
In most cases, ear surgery will leave a faint scar in the back of the ear that will fade with time. Even when only one ear appears to protrude, surgery is usually performed on both ears for a better balance.
The patient’s head will be wrapped in a bulky bandage immediately following surgery to promote the best molding and healing. The ears may throb or ache a little for a few days, but this can be relieved by medication.
Within a few days, the bulky bandages will be replaced by a lighter head dressing similar to a headband. Be sure to follow Dr. Beal’s directions for wearing this dressing, especially at night.
Stitches are usually removed, or will dissolve, in about a week.
Any activity in which the ear might be bent should be avoided for a month or so. Most adults can go back to work about five days after surgery. Children can go back to school after seven days or so, if they’re careful about playground activity. You may want to ask your child’s teacher to keep an eye on the child for a few weeks.
Sometimes, however, the correction can leave a scar that’s worse than the original problem. Ask Dr. Beals about the effectiveness of surgery for your specific case.