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Otoplasty (Ear Surgery)

Otoplasty, also referred to as ear correction surgery, is a surgery aiming to correct the damaged external ear (also called pinna) caused by congenital disorders such as microtia and anotia, and trauma, and bringing it back in shape by contouring or reconstructing cartilaginous support of the ear.

‘Otoplasty’ is a procedure created to correct protruding or deformed ears by first correcting the shape (if required) and then repositioning the ears closer to the head. The surgery can be performed on children as young as six years of age.

Who is a good candidate?

The candidates for an Otoplasty are anyone who feels unhappy with the appearance of their ears and once the ears have grown to full size (around 5-6 years of age).

Ear Correction

Preparation

Prior to the procedure, a surgeon will meet with the candidate to discuss the surgery, confirm the results that can realistically be achieved and outline the complications that can occur. It is essential that candidates have realistic expectations.

Your surgeon will also perform diagnostic examinations and/or laboratory investigations prior to hospital admission and surgery. This is to ensure that you are fit for surgery. This is in line with standard hospital procedure.

How the Procedure is Performed

Whilst general anesthesia is preferred for children, a local anesthetic is often used to correct a deformed or protruding ear. An oval-shaped incision is made in the crease situated behind the ear, before removing some skin to uncover the cartilage. The folds of the ear (the anti-helix and the helix) are then reshaped. Stitches are usually used to support the cartilage and reposition the top of the ear closer to the head.

Following this, the entire ear is set closer to the head by weakening some of the cartilage by making a series of incisions into the cartilage and suturing into the new location. The incisions are then closed and dressings are applied over the ears.

Limitation’s and Risks

There is risk in all surgical procedures and it is important that you are aware of the risks involved in your procedure before going ahead with the surgery. During your appointments you should discuss any concerns with your surgeon and not be afraid to ask questions. Your surgery will be unable to proceed unless you sign a pre-surgery consent form.

It is also your obligation to advise your surgeon of any important medical information that could affect your surgery and/or increase your levels of risk. The type of medical information that you should disclose includes medical complications, previous surgeries, current and recent medications and family disease.

Every patient is different with risks for each person varying based on different factors. The below risks can occur with undergoing ear correction:

  • Infection in the ear cartilage
  • Development of keloid (a thick scar that grows larger than the original scar). This risk is more dominant in African-Americans
  • Hematoma (localized swelling which is a result of blood in the ear cartilage. This requires removal.
  • Overcorrection of the ears, where they are located too close to the head
  • Suture loosening which may result in the ear returning to its original location.

Side Effects

As with any surgery, there are always possible side effects. These may include numbness and aching/throbbing within the ears.

Recovery Time

Patients of this procedure should be able to return home the same day. A lighter dressing will replace the bandages a few days following surgery and external stitches will be removed within one week.

  • Returning to work/school: Adults within 5-7 days. Children within 7 days
  • High impact activity: Avoid for 1 month or more
  • Final results: One week

Note: This information acts as a guide to your possible treatment. Your individual concerns and specific medical history will need to be shared and discussed with your surgeon during your initial consultation.

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