Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)
Why Consider Otoplasty?
Otoplasty is usually done to set prominent ears back closer to the head or to reduce the size of large ears. The procedure is often performed on children between the ages of four and 14. However, the procedure can be done on adults of any age.
This procedure is performed by your triple board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Gilbert Lee, who has been voted by the San Diego Medical Society "Top Doctor" for the past 6 years running. Read more about Dr. Lee's qualifications on his CV.
Ear Surgery Photos
These ear surgery photos were taken of patients who received ear surgery at Changes Plastic Surgery. Please visit our photo gallery of other ear surgeries performed by Dr. Lee.
Planning for Surgery
As with all surgical procedures, feeling comfortable about the procedure is important. Children who feel uncomfortable about their ears and want the surgery are generally more cooperative during the process and happier with the outcome.
In the initial consultation, your plastic surgeon will evaluate the condition, and recommend the most effective technique.
Otoplasty is performed as an outpatient procedure in a surgical facility. With school age children, general anesthesia is recommended while older children or adults usually have the procedure performed with local anesthesia and sedation.
Dr. Lee is a board-certified plastic surgeon. The procedures are performed in a state licensed and Medicare certified surgical center, along with skilled anesthesiologists. These credentials help ensure the highest standards of care and your utmost safety.
This procedure usually takes about two hours, although more complicated procedures may take longer. With one of the more common techniques, the surgeon makes a small incision in the back of the ear and a thin strip of skin is removed. The ear cartilage is then sculpted and folded back toward the head to allow the ear to lie flatter against the head and appear more normal. The ear cartilage is secured in place with sutures. Occasionally, the surgeon will have to remove a piece of cartilage to provide a more natural-looking fold when the surgery is complete.
In most cases, otoplasty will leave a faint scar in the back of the ear that will fade with time. Even when only one ear appears to protrude, surgery is usually performed on both ears for a better balance.
The patient's head is wrapped in a bandage immediately following surgery to promote the best molding and healing. The ears may throb or ache for a few days, but this can be relieved with medication.
Within a few days, a lighter head dressing similar to a headband usually replaces the initial bandages. To help the healing process, it is important to closely follow the post-operative instructions. If removable stitches are used, they will usually be removed in a week.
Any activity in which the ear might be bent should be avoided for a month or so. Most adults can go back to work about five days after surgery. Children can go back to school after seven days or so, if they're careful about playground activity. You may want to ask your child's teacher to keep an eye on the child for a few weeks.
Other Ear Problems Solved with Ear Surgery
Besides protruding ears, there are a variety of other ear problems that can be helped with surgery. These include: "lop ear," when the tip seems to fold down and forward; "cupped ear," which is usually a very small ear; and "shell ear," when the curve in the outer rim, as well as the natural folds and creases, are missing. Surgery can also improve large or stretched earlobes, or lobes with large creases and wrinkles.
When otoplasty is performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon, complications are infrequent and usually minor. Nevertheless, as with any operation, there are risks associated with surgery and specific complications associated with this procedure.
Occasionally, patients develop an infection in the cartilage, which can cause scar tissue to form. Such infections are usually treated with antibiotics; rarely, surgery may be required to drain the infected area. A small percentage of patients may develop a blood clot on the ear. It may dissolve naturally or can be drawn out with a needle. There is also a risk of asymmetry as well as potential recurrence to some degree if the sutures break.
The results from otoplasty are permanent and most patients, regardless of their age, find the improvements from otoplasty to be dramatic, and are very pleased with the results. Your pre-operative discussions with your surgeon are an important way to ensure your desired results are understood.
"Your sincere care for our son is greatly appreciated. With our best wishes for your health and your family. -Best regards Fay & Mike"
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