What is Otoplasty?
Ear surgery, or otoplasty, refers to plastic surgery procedures performed to correct protruding, over-sized, or deformed ears. This is a cosmetic and/or reconstructive surgery that can fix aesthetic issues or birth defects, as well as deformities due to injury and differences in ear shape and size. The surgery changes the appearance of the external ear in both children and adults. After the ears have grown to 85- to 90-percent of their adult size, usually around age five or six, the procedure can be performed to reconstruct the ears’ shape, size, and position.
What is the Procedure Process for Ear Surgery?
The exact details of the procedure depend on the individual’s goals and concerns. For protruding ears, the surgeon will make small incisions behind the ears to trim, remove, and reshape the cartilage. The ears are then secured with sutures so that they lie closer to the head. Other deformities or shape issues can be corrected by removing skin and cartilage through incisions in the front of the ear or otoplasty. In both cases, scars are barely visible. Children’s surgery is performed under general anesthetic. The surgery typically takes about two to three hours.
At the end of the procedure, a soft protective bandage is applied and this remains in place for 2 to 5 days. We generally then ask patients to wear a light elastic headband at night for an additional three weeks to minimize the risk of inadvertently putting traction on the ear or otoplasty.
Who is a Good Candidate for Ear Surgery?
Any healthy child or adult with large, protruding, or misshapen ears, that are nearly full-sized, is potentially a good candidate. However, your surgeon will want to ensure that the patient has reasonable expectations concerning the procedure’s outcome.
*Each patient is unique and individual results may vary.
What are the Benefits of this procedure?
Otoplasty can reshape and reposition the ears so that they’re in proportion to the rest of the face. This can bolster confidence and reduce or negate the psychological effects associated with teasing and bullying.
Ear Surgery for Adults
We all care about our appearance and occasionally one facial feature may be out of proportion to the rest of the face and can make you feel self conscious.
Prominent or deformed ears can be embarrassing for children and adults and the subject of teasing that can leave lifelong scars. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that cosmetic ear procedures made up 45 percent of all plastic surgeries performed on children ages 18 and under in 2012. There’s a reason why this age group accounts for so many otoplasty procedures: improving large or protruding ears early on can spare children the teasing that can occur and dramatically improve their self-confidence.
That may be nice for you to hear, but the trouble is you are now an adult. The good news is that if your protruding or large ears are still bothering you, there’s something you can do. Otoplasty is a cosmetic surgery specifically designed to improve the shape, position or portion of the ear. It can change a defect in the ear structure that was present at birth or disfigured in an injury caused by an accident or prior surgery.
Otoplasty in Adults
Some adults seeking otoplasty have been bothered by their large or protruding ears for their entire life. They may have worn hats to hide them or styled their hair in ways to cover them. They may have spent a childhood teased and called names like “Mickey Mouse” and “Dumbo”, but they may not have had the opportunity to undergo surgery until adulthood. For these patients, the surgery can be especially rewarding, improving what has felt like a lifelong source of embarrassment. Other adults may seek otoplasty to address recurrence of the protrusion despite having had surgery as a child or to address changes in the appearance of the ear that have occurred with age.
Ear surgery in adults is generally the same as in children; however, there are some special considerations. The cartilage in the ear is especially pliable at younger ages, making it particularly amenable to surgery. As we age, the ear cartilage becomes much firmer and, as an adult, it is often less pliable. Techniques to weaken the cartilage may be needed. Nevertheless, adult patients still can expect excellent results from otoplasty. The procedure can usually be performed as an outpatient under local or mild sedation anesthesia.
Silence the Critics
Plastic surgery can create a natural shape out of large and protruding ears and, at the same time, bring balance and proportion to your face, as well as increase the self-esteem you have longed for since childhood. It is important to consider that otoplasty should be a personal decision that you make for yourself.
Most otoplasty takes about two hours depending on the extent of the correction involved in each individual case. If you are in good health and void of any life-threatening illnesses and medical conditions, otoplasty could be the ideal surgery for you.
- Modification of the Mustardé Otoplasty Technique Using Temporary Contouring Sutures
- What Concerns Does Otoplasty Correct?
Post Otoplasty instructions
Call our office promptly if:
- You have increase pain after the first 24 hours following surgery.
- You have a temperature elevation over 100 degrees.
- The dressing shifts or falls off.
- The ear is injured after the dressing is removed, if there is any increasing pain or change in the shape of the ear.
If any of the above should occur after regular office hours, we can be reached 24 hours a day through our answering service at 612-844-0404.
What Can I Expect?
- Following surgery, a bulky bandage will be wrapped around the head, covering the ears. Associated with this, there will be a fair amount of pressure.
- A mild amount of pain and discomfort will also be associated with surgery. This can be easily managed with oral medications following surgery as prescribed by your doctor. Most children require only plain Tylenol, and Tylenol with Codeine for adults is always sufficient.
- The discomfort should begin decreasing within 48 hours of surgery and an increase in pain following that requires that you contact your surgeon.
- Hairstyling and shampooing are a problem following surgery until the dressings are removed. A dry shampoo is permissible, but getting the hair wet is not recommended until the dressing is removed.
How Do I Care For Myself After Surgery?
- Leave the dressing over the ears undisturbed.
- Take antibiotics and pain medications as prescribed by your surgeon.
- One week following surgery, the dressings and sutures will be removed.
- Often for children, the sutures dissolve spontaneously.
- For an additional three weeks after surgery, a light supportive elastic band over the ears is worn at night to prevent inadvertent injury to the ears.
- Sleep with the head elevated for the first 24-48 hours.
- Heat and ice in the first 3 days after surgery are impractical as the bulky dressing will prevent their use.
- These are approximate recovery otoplasty guidelines:
1 DAY Return Home
1-2 DAYS Aching, throbbing
3-6 DAYS Bandage off; stitches out or dissolve
Ear Surgery FAQ
Only the most reputable and accomplished surgeon should be trusted for your ear correction procedure. Not only are experience and skill a must, the best otoplasty surgeon will have extensive training in procedures of the face, head, and neck. They should also be board-certified in Facial Plastic Surgery. Communication between doctor and patient is key. To ensure you achieve the best results, choose a surgeon who will take time to comprehensively explain the benefits and limitations of an Otoplasty procedure, helping you to develop realistic goals for your specific ear correction surgery.
Preeminent otoplasty surgeons in both Minnesota and nationally, Drs. Peter Hilger and Lyford-Pike are accomplished physicians, teachers, and researchers with more than 30 years experience in facial cosmetic and plastic surgery. Board-certified in Facial Plastic Surgery, and frequently lecturing internationally, Dr. Hilger and Dr. Lyford-Pike are among the most elite otoplasty surgeons in the country and one of the few fellowship-trained facial plastic surgeons in the Twin Cities.
Otoplasty can transform the ears so that they are in proportion to the face. Because surgeons can accurately estimate the eventual size of a child’s ears, future growth won’t interfere with the procedure. With precise techniques, the results appear natural and are typically permanent.
There are risks inherent with any surgery, however, they are minimal with otoplasty. The surgeon works on the external ear only and hearing is not affected. If post-surgical instructions are closely followed, the chances of complications or noticeable scarring decrease greatly. Risks include abnormal scar tissue, (which can often be corrected), hematoma, and the recurrence of ear protrusion.
After surgery, the patient is usually given medication to control the pain, as well as a head dressing that is worn for several days. Bruising, swelling and mild pain may occur but diminish quickly. If traditional sutures are used, they are removed approximately one week later. A headband may be worn at night for several weeks. Many people return to work or school after 7 to 10 days.
Regarding your child’s upcoming surgery, we would advise only that you should be careful about sun exposure in the weeks before surgery as the inflammation from the sunburn can create and increase discomfort and persistent redness of the skin after surgery. Other than that, we don’t have any particular precautions. We generally advise that conversations regarding the surgery be very relaxed and positive as the surgery is relatively straightforward with a rapid recovery and it is important not to generate any great fear or anxiety before the procedure. The surgery provides a very nice enhancement that is not obvious to casual observers.
In otoplasty, the ears are re-contoured and placed so that they rest closer to the head. Typically, a light compressive bandage is worn for two to five days and then the bandage is removed in the office. The new contour of the ear is immediately apparent. The sutures are placed in the back side of the ear and dissolve within approximately a week to 10 days. You’re allowed to shampoo your hair at three to five days after surgery. At night we have you wear a light elastic hair band that protects the ears, but otherwise during the daytime no protection or coverage is used and you’re able to style your hair in a normal fashion and return to your normal activities.
Prominent ears are common and can be remarkably improved with a straight forward surgical procedure called an otoplasty. With an otoplasty, an incision is made on the back Ear Surgery Before and After | Minneapolis, MNside of the ear, and the cartilaginous framework of the ear is re-shaped to give the ear a much more flattering contour. This procedure is gratifying for both the patient and surgeon in that it makes a flattering appearance change with hidden incisions and the changes are permanent.
Your question regarding recovery for a child after otoplasty is very appropriate given their social and academic environment. We have a light bandage that the patient wears for 3 to 5 days after surgery and then we have them wear a gentle protective band over their ears for sleep. The child should be able to return to social and academic endeavors at about a week after surgery. As for physical activity, we do restrict anything that can abrade or pull on the ear for 3 to 4 weeks.
An otoplasty, or ear surgery, is performed as an outpatient procedure. On children, it is generally performed under general anesthesia. On young adults or mature adults, the surgery can be performed under sedation anesthesia and it takes about an hour and a half and has a very expeditious recovery.
Why choose Hilger Clinic
- Dr. Hilger has been performing facial cosmetic surgery in Edina, Minnesota for over 25 years.
- Dr. Hilger is Double Board-Certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology.
- Dr. Hilger served as President of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
- Dr. Hilger serves as a Professor and Director of the Division of Facial Plastic Surgery in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Minnesota.
- Dr. Lyford-Pike is a highly accomplished and skilled facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon, named as one of Minnesota’s Monthly Best Doctors 2017.
Last modified on November 25, 2019 by Dr. Peter Hilger, MD and reviewed by Dr. Sofia Lyford-Pike, MD. With thousands of cosmetic procedures performed, his breadth of knowledge and talent is unmatched. Dr. Hilger has built his practice on naturally beautiful facial surgery, with outcomes that enhance the true uniqueness of each patient. His decades-long career has been driven by a passion for patient care and attention to detail that has had a lasting impact on facial plastic surgery both in the Twin Cities and nationwide.