What is Ear Surgery?
Cosmetic ear surgery is also known as an otoplasty. It is a form of plastic surgery used to correct the shape, position, or size of the ear. Ear surgery can be performed on patients who have had injuries that cause their cosmetic ear issues, or patients who are dissatisfied with the ears with which they were born.Schedule a Consultation
Why Get Ear Surgery?
Ear surgery is a solution for people who are unhappy with the appearance of their ears. Patients can be children or adults.
Ear surgery can be used to correct a number of ear issues, including:
- Protruding ears
- Ears that are too large or too small
- Cauliflower ears (a common injury among certain athletes, especially those who play contact sports like boxing or hockey)
- Ears that droop
- “Lop” ears, where the tips fold down and are jutted forward
- Lobes that are too large or hang down too far
- Ears that are missing certain identifiable features
- Other ear deformities caused by birth defects
Ear surgery is a simple procedure with only about one week of recovery time. It is an excellent way to correct ear abnormalities that are resulting in teasing (if the patient is school age), or damaged confidence in adult patients.
Who is A Good Candidate for Ear Surgery?
A good candidate for ear surgery will have realistic expectations of the results of the surgery, and will be undergoing the procedure for personal reasons (not to satisfy anyone else). They should be in good overall health, both physically and mentally.
Since ear surgery covers a wide variety of adjustments to the ear that have an equally wide variety of causes, there is no “right” age for a patient. However, younger patients’ ear cartilage is easier to form to a new shape during surgery. Patients do need to be at least four or five years old because that is the age at which the cartilage in the ear is mature enough for surgery. If the patient is a child, he or she needs to be mature enough to follow directions (which is important for post-operative care).
Adults who are considering ear surgery should be non-smokers, or should be willing to give up smoking for six weeks before and after surgery. Smoking interferes with the healing process.
What Happens During My Consultation for Ear Surgery?
He will examine the structures of your ears and listen to your concerns about their appearance. He will form a surgical plan with you, and discuss what techniques are best for correcting your ear shape.
The surgeon will also discuss the risks of the otoplasty surgery with you, along with incision care and other post-operative needs.
How Do I Prepare for Ear Surgery?
You will need to stop smoking at least six weeks beforehand, and will stop eating and drinking at an instructed time the night before the surgery. The surgeon might have you stop taking any blood-thinning medications or herbal supplements about two weeks before your scheduled ear surgery.
Patients will need to take off a week from work or school (or have the surgery in the summer, for school age patients).
Wear a loose, comfortable, button down shirt on the day of your surgery. If you are having an outpatient procedure, you won’t want to pull a shirt on over your head before you go home. This is especially important for younger patients, who might be a bit more clumsy and could possibly hurt themselves.
You will also need a ride to take you home. Children are sometimes required to stay overnight after surgery, so you will need to plan for that if that is the case in your situation.
How is Ear Surgery Done?
Children are usually given general anesthesia, and adults may be given local anesthesia. The surgery will last between two and three hours. If you are having other procedures done at the same time, the length will vary.
For most forms of the surgery, an otoplasty incision is located on the back of the ear where it joins the side of the head. Excess cartilage will be removed through that incision, or trimmed and pinned in place with sutures. If the adjustments the patient is having are to the front of the ear, the incisions will be hidden in the natural folds and creases of the ear shape. Permanent sutures are used to shape the cartilage to its desired appearance.
Once the cartilage is properly shaped, the incisions will be closed with external sutures.
What is Recovery Like for Ear Surgery?
Ear surgery recovery starts immediately after surgery.
You will be taken to a recovery room until the effects of the anesthesia wear off. There may be dressing over the ears that help the ears hold their new shape while they heal. The dressings must stay in place day and night until the surgeon gives you the go-ahead to remove them. They usually remain in place for at least three days.
There may be some tenderness and itching at the surgical site. Your surgeon can prescribe you medication to deal with any discomfort. Stitches will be removed after about one week. You might be given a headband-shaped bandage to wear at night for a few weeks.
During your recovery period, be sure to follow all post-operative instructions. Keep the incisions clean and dry. You will be able to return to work or school within one week, generally. Continue to avoid strenuous activity until your surgeon clears you for it.
What Are the Risks of Ear Surgery?
These risks include bleeding, infection, reactions to anesthesia, changes in skin sensation, ear asymmetry, skin discoloration, or unhappiness with the results. Ear surgery will not cause hearing loss.
Select a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon for ear surgery– it’s one of the best ways to reduce the risk of complications. Board Certified surgeons have the training and expertise necessary to perform the procedure with meticulous attention to every detail. They use highly trained staff and the best medical facilities to help prevent complications from arising. Our surgeon, Dr. Nukta, is a Board Certified Surgeon in Northern Virginia.
Following all your pre- and post-operative instructions will also help prevent complications. Your surgeon will discuss the risks with you in more detail at your consultation appointment.
Will Insurance Cover Ear Surgery?
However, if your ears need adjustment because of a genetic birth defect or because of an injury, insurance may cover the surgery. You will need to contact your insurance company to be sure.