When the ears protrude from the sides of the head, it may be an embarrassing condition that causes individuals to change their hairstyles in order to hide their ears. Peer pressure can be devastating to the self-esteem and self-image of all individuals, especially developing children. For this reason, otoplasties are usually performed at an age when individuals are mature enough to understand that their ears are different and that they want to undergo surgery, yet young enough that they haven’t been subjected to a lifetime of peer pressure.
Otoplasty can be done at any age. For very small changes in the ear, particularly just the shape of the top of the ear, when the top of the ear protrudes and the mid portion of the ear protrudes, the ears need to be reshaped and set back both. To do this an incision is made behind the ear, where it is hidden. The shape is carefully designed to match the opposing side and to have a natural appearance.
In adults or in children who are mature enough, the procedure can be done under local anesthesia. Numbing cream can be placed behind the ears an hour prior to surgery, and then using a local anesthetic the ears are numbed. The surgery can be performed while the patient is awake but comfortable and listening to the music of their choice. The most common area to be fixed is recreating the fold in the mid to top portion of the ear. This is created by multiple sutures, which are placed underneath the skin, and thus hold the ear in the correct position. A minimal amount of skin and/or cartilage is removed in order to help preserve the new shape of the ear and uphold its natural appearance for lifetime results. The incision is closed with a few stitches behind the ear and a dressing is placed.
Following surgery, the dressing is left on overnight and the patient comes in the following morning to have the dressing changed. Pain medication is administered if needed. The patient receives an antibiotic to help prevent any infection. Most patients complain that it feels tight within the first few days to weeks after surgery. The surgical site is wrapped during the day and at night, which the patient or the family can change for the first week.
After the sutures are removed, the patient is instructed to wear a sweatband when they are comfortable just to help take all the tension off the sutures. Additionally, this helps to remind the patients not to pull at their ears when they are sleeping. There is some spring back that occurs with time when the cartilage is spared. This is natural therefore the doctor usually overcorrects slightly at the time of the initial surgery.