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Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)

Whether you are a child or an adult, the appearance of prominent ears can make you feel self-conscious about the way you look. Otoplasty is a procedure that can pin ears that protrude too far from the head or shape ears to improve aesthetic balance and harmony.

Types of Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)

Ear Pinning and Shaping

Otoplasty is a form of ear surgery performed to set disproportionately large or prominent ears closer to the head or to shape the ears to achieve facial harmony. Plastic surgery is a surgical specialty that seeks to improve physical function or to minimize disfigurement or scarring resulting from accidents, disease or birth defects. The word plastic is derived from the Greek meaning molding or giving form.

If you need assistance repairing stretched or torn earlobes, see Earlobe Repair.

The Ear Surgery Procedure

Otoplasty typically is performed to create or restore the center fold to disproportionately large or prominent ears. The extent of the procedure depends on what changes are desired and what your surgeon deems appropriate. On your surgeon’s recommendation, you may be operated on in the surgeon’s office or in an outpatient surgical facility. Otoplasty may be performed under a local anesthetic, which numbs the area around the ears, or under a IV sedation. IV sedation will make you sleep through the entire operation but you will breathe on your own without a breathing tube.

There are several possible surgical approaches to otoplasty. Using a commonly employed technique, the surgeon makes incisions in the back of the ear and removes skin to expose ear cartilage. Then, the surgeon uses sutures to fold the cartilage in on itself to reshape the ear. In some instances, the same result can be achieved without sutures by weakening the cartilage before folding it. The incisions are closed with sutures.

By creating a more pronounced fold in the central portion of the ear, the surgeon brings the ear closer to the head.

Depending on the extent of the surgery, the procedure usually lasts about two hours.

Ear Surgery Preoperative Considerations

A consultation with a one of our board certified plastic surgeons is the first step an individual should take if considering otoplasty. The patient or, in the case of a child, the patient’s family, should discuss candidly expectations about looking and feeling better after surgery, while keeping in mind that the desired result is improvement, not perfection.

The surgeon will discuss the variables that influence the decisions involved in otoplasty. The procedure can be performed on a patient after the age of five or six when ear growth is almost complete. When disfigurement is severe, it is recommended that a child be operated on early to avoid possible emotional stress when he or she enters school.

After examining you, the surgeon will explain specific details of your case, including the surgical technique to be used, the anesthesia, where the operation will be performed and what the surgery realistically can accomplish. Other factors to consider before otoplasty, such as risk and cost, should be discussed with the surgeon at this time.

Thousands of otoplasties are performed successfully each year. Nevertheless, you should be aware of the potential risks of surgery and specific complications associated with this operation. Postoperative complications such as infection and blood clots are uncommon. Occasionally a set back ear may protrude again, necessitating a second operation. Risk of complications can be minimized by closely adhering to your surgeon’s advice on follow-up care.

Since otoplasty generally is carried out on an elective basis, most insurance plans normally do not offer coverage. If surgery is deemed necessary to correct disfigurement due to improper development, the surgeon’s fees and other costs may be partially or fully paid by your insurance carrier. In many cases, you may deduct the costs as a medical expense on your income tax return.

Postoperative Ear Surgery Recovery

Following surgery, the ears are covered with a bulky dressing. There is some soreness and discomfort that is easily controlled by medication. Within a few days, dressings are removed. To promote healing, patients may be asked to wear a light head dressing for several weeks.

The objective of otoplasty is more natural and better-positioned ears. Since incisions are made in the back of the ears, faint scars should be concealed in the creases.

Although you may be up and about in a day or two following surgery, your plastic surgeon will advise you on the proper schedule for resuming your usual routine. The decision on when to return to work and normal activities depends on how fast you heal and how you feel.

To make this procedure accessible to all our patients we provide Financing options.
Call (414) 439-3000 for a cosmetic consultation.


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With board-certified plastic surgeons, two state certified surgical operating rooms, an anesthesiologist, and a team of specialized, credentialed nurses Illume provides ready availability for whatever cosmetic service or surgery you need. Let us help you Live Life Beautifully!

Call or text: 414-439-3000

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