Otoplasty refers to plastic and cosmetic surgery that is performed to correct ear deformities, the appearance of prominent ears or disfiguring lesions of the outer ear.
Improving the appearance of the ears can have physical and psychological benefits.
When is otoplasty needed?
Otoplasty can be a procedure used in:
- Plastic surgery, when you have to reconstruct the ears
- Cosmetic surgery, when correcting defects to improve the aesthetics of the ear
Otoplasty can be performed on both adults and children.
Here are some of the cases in which otoplasty is most frequently used:
- Reconstruction of the outer ear
- Correction of the appearance of protruding or prominent ears
- To change differences in size or shape between ears
- To reshape deformed ears
- To repair the auricle (outer ear) after trauma
Otoplasty and hearing function
Otoplasty does not correct hearing problems related to middle and inner ear structures.
Hearing problems are treated by otorhinolaryngologists, doctors specialised in the treatment of ear, nose and throat pathologies.
Diagnosis: prominent ("sticking-out") ears
The diagnosis of prominent or protruding ears is complex because it is a matter of shape and proportion, but also of how you see yourself and feel with ears that are not "normal".
Introduction to cosmetic otoplasty
Otoplasty can be performed on both children and adults.
· In children it is performed under general anaesthetic
· In adults under general or local anaesthetic with sedation
Most procedures last between 2 to around 3 hours.
Medical consultation before cosmetic otoplasty surgery
The success and safety of cosmetic otoplasty depends very much on prior consultation.
The most frequently asked questions are:
- Why do you want to undergo ear surgery, your expectations and the desired result
· Health status, drug allergies and medical treatments
· The use of medicines, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs
· Previous surgeries
The surgeon may also:
- Evaluate general health or pre-existing risk factors
· Take photographs for medical records and for the "before and after" comparison of the surgery
· Propose the best solutions and the most suitable surgery
· Discuss likely results of ear surgery and possible risks or potential complications
- What to do on the day of surgery
· The use of anaesthesia
· Post-op care and check-ups
Preparation for otoplasty
Preparation for ear surgery changes whether it is for children or adults.
The initial phase is the evaluation of the emotional impact that the procedure will have on the child (unrealistic expectations of the parents towards the surgery or a child who does not want to undergo the operation).
In general, a positive attitude is associated with fast recovery and better results.
The procedure in adults includes a series of standard physical and blood tests. It should be agreed with the surgeon which medications should be discontinued, as well as quitting smoking before surgery; smoking complicates the healing process. Careful personal and hair hygiene is recommended before surgery as well as cutting or tying hair back near the affected area.
Cosmetic surgery for prominent "sticking-out" ears
In children: otoplasty to treat “sticking-out” ears should be performed between 5 and 7 years of age. One of the reasons is that the human ear has reached 85–90% of its adult size by this age, so the surgeon can estimate the final size and shape of the ear with remarkable accuracy. The cartilage in the ear is also easier to reshape. Another reason can be psychological, in order to prevent the “sticking-out” ears from generating a complex.
In adults: there is no universally accepted single technique for performing otoplasty to correct “sticking-out” ears.
After otoplasty surgery, the patient's head is wrapped in a bandage for 4 or 5 days. After the removal of the bandage, a headband over the ears should be worn for about 1 month, then only during the night for another 2 months.
Patients should strictly follow the surgeon's instructions on how to wash their hair after the operation and especially avoid using a hair dryer.
Patients should also avoid contact sports for at least 3 months after otoplasty.
The general risks are those you might have after any surgery using general anaesthetic.
Among the specific risks of this surgery are the following:
- The formation of abnormal scar tissue. This complication can usually be corrected afterwards
- Ear shape distortion caused by overcorrection
- Return of ear protrusion. This complication is more likely to occur in the first 6 months after surgery.
The normal results of otoplasty surgery for “sticking-out” ears are ears that are closer to the patient's head, which can make the face more harmonious.
Cosmetic otoplasty is immediately visible.