Aesthetic Surgery of the Ears (Otoplasty)
Ears that stick out more than normal or simply seem too large for the face can seriously detract from a person’s self-confidence. Children and teenagers in this situation can be the targets of unkind teasing, right at a time when you want them to be forming a strong self-image.
Fortunately, a relatively simple surgical solution is available. Otoplasty—ear surgery—is a way to bring harmony to your facial features and boost your sense that the world is seeing you, not being distracted by your ears.
Otoplasty can position the ears closer to the head and repair genetic or injury-caused defects in the outer ears. It can correct torn earlobes or restore lobes that are drooping because of aging, unsatisfactory facelift surgery, or years of wearing weighty earrings.
Are You a Candidate for Otoplasty?
If you are generally healthy but feel bothered by too-prominent or misshapen ears, you may be a good candidate for otoplasty. Both adults and children can benefit from ear surgery. In general, children should be at least five years old before they have this surgery. A consultation with Dr. Swenson will help you determine whether otoplasty is appropriate for you or your child.
What to Expect from Otoplasty
To adjust protruding ears, the surgeon reshapes the cartilage and bends it back closer to the head, “pinning” the fold securely with internal sutures and removing any excess cartilage and skin. The incision is made behind the ear, along the natural fold, and closed with sutures. Overly large ears are reshaped by remolding and removing cartilage. If incisions are necessary in front, they will be hidden in the natural folds of the ears.
Ear surgeryusually takes two hours or less and is performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. Recovery for most patients is quick—usually there’s minimal discomfort, though there may be some numbness for several weeks. A soft pressure bandage is wrapped around the head to hold the ears in position for the first two or three days; after that you’ll only need to wear a headband while sleeping, for a month or so. Most people can resume their regular non-strenuous activities a couple of days after their surgery. Children typically can return to school within a week, as long as they are careful during active play.
Cosmetic ear surgery usually isn’t covered by insurance, although some plans may offer coverage in the case of teens or children.