What is Otoplasty?
Otoplasty (ear pinning) is performed to reduce the size, position, or shape of the ear. Otoplasty is used for patients born with ears that are too large for their face, ears that project too far from the scalp, or ears that do not have the architecture of a normal ear. Although otoplasty is frequently performed in childhood, around the ages of 6-8 years old, it can also be performed in adults of any age. Otoplasty does not affect the function of the ear. The goal of otoplasty is to create ears with an aesthetic size, shape, and positioning.
Who is a Candidate for a Otoplasty?
You may want to consider an otoplasty if you have:
- Excessively large ears
- Ears with excessive projection from the side of the head
- Ears lacking the normal architecture of an ear (i.e. lop ear)
- Decreased self-esteem or embarrassment because of ear shape or position
How is an Otoplasty Performed?
The type and technique of otoplasty performed depends on the individual concerns of the patient. Even if only one ear appears to be affected, surgery is generally performed on both ears to maintain symmetry. The procedure can be performed under local or general anesthesia. General anesthesia is preferred for children while adults can usually tolerate local anesthesia. The procedure involves an incision placed behind the ear, where it is well hidden. If the cartilages of the ear need to be repositioned or adjusted, this is accomplished with precise and specialized suture placement. Sometimes the ear cartilages will need to be sutured closer to the scalp to diminish the projection of the ear. Once the cartilages have an appropriate shape and position, the skin incision is closed and a dressing is placed.
All surgery is associated with risks. The risks associated with otoplasty include bleeding, infection, scarring, malposition, and need for revisional surgery. It is important to talk with Dr. Rovelo about the risks of your surgery and how the risks can be minimized to provide the best possible outcome.
Otoplasty is performed in the outpatient surgery setting. The procedure takes 1-2 hours to perform, and patients can go home after the procedure. After the surgery, patients will wear a head wrap for one week. If permanent sutures have been placed, they will be removed after 1 week. Patients will need to continue to wear a headband at night for about 6 weeks, to protect the repair during sleep. In addition, patients will need to refrain from rough play or heavy physical activity for 6 weeks, to prevent inadvertent injury to the ears and jeopardizing of the healing process.