Otoplasty is the technical term used for ear surgery that is performed on the outer ear. Otoplasty can reshape, reposition, or adjust the size of the ear. Otoplasty is not a surgery that is used to correct inner ear or hearing disorders.
Defects to the shape of the ear that occurred at birth or became pronounced over time, injuries to the ear from an accident, oversized, split or torn earlobes, and oversized piercings can all be corrected with this type of procedure.
Having ear surgery can improve the appearance of your ear by creating balance between the ears and face. Many people enjoy improved self-esteem after this type of surgery if large or otherwise misshapen ears were previously a source of concern.
Why Have Otoplasty?
Otoplasty is the perfect way to correct the shape and size of the ear or to correct issues that have occurred from injuries or other procedures. Many people find that they feel uncomfortable with the appearance of their ears, and this type of procedure allows them to experience the satisfaction with their appearance that they desire.
Some of the issues that otoplasty can correct include:
- Macrotia – a rare disorder causing overly large ears
- Large or drooping earlobes
- Torn or split earlobes
- Ears that stick out too far
- Misshapen ears from birth disorders
- Damage to the ear from an accident
- Overlarge ear piercings (elongated Pierce Repair)
The Otoplasty Procedure
After a thorough exam and consultation, Dr. Walton will schedule the Otoplasty procedure. The procedure will begin after the administration of anesthesia. Depending on your medical history, the expected length of time for the procedure, and the preferences of you and your surgeon, you may receive a local anesthetic, intravenous (IV) sedation, or general anesthesia.
Dr. Walton will make incisions in the ear to begin the reconstruction. These incisions are generally made in the back of the ear or in the folds of the front of the ear to ensure that there is no noticeable scarring.
The reconstruction efforts will be completed, and then Dr. Walton will close the openings with stitches. Most stitching will be under the skin of the ear with dissolvable stitches to ensure there is minimal visible scarring.
Once the operation is completed and you are fully recovered from any anesthesia you have received, Dr. Walton will send you home with care instructions and a return date for a follow-up exam. After the initial dressings are removed in office, Dr. Walton may have you wear a special headband to protect the ears in the post-operative period. Headbands are generally worn for 3-4 weeks following setback otoplasty in children to prevent inadvertant injury to the ear during healing.
The Ideal Candidate for Otoplasty
Anyone who is in good health and not suffering from a cold, the flu, or any similar virus can be a good candidate of otoplasty. Teenagers and adults should have realistic expectations and be able to clearly understand directions to care for their surgical area after the procedure is completed. Children ages five to 12 should be in good health and able to understand simple instructions for post-surgical care. If a child does not feel comfortable with having the surgery, the procedure should be delayed until a later date. Children under the age of five should not undergo surgery for ear reconstruction. This is due to the fact that the cartilage in their ears is not well formed enough at this young of an age, and as they grow the surgical corrections can change.
All people who come in for otoplasty should be doing this for themselves. They should want to correct an issue that makes them feel uncomfortable or insecure. You should never seek any type of plastic surgery procedure to please another person.
FAQs About Otoplasty
The following questions are frequently asked by clients considering otoplasty.
What is the recovery period for surgery?
Your recovery could take as little as a few days or up to a few weeks. This will depend on the type of surgery that you have and the amount of reconstruction that is necessary. Dr. Walton will go over the anticipated recovery time with you during your consultation.
Will there be pain?
Feeling a little discomfort after the surgery is typical for any type of procedure. In most cases, the discomfort can be managed with a mild prescription pain killer. Dr. Walton will advise you of any other therapies that may help, such as using ice packs to ease the swelling.
Are there risks involved in Otoplasty?
All surgeries have associated risks. However, the risks that have been noted with this type of surgery are very minimal. Common risks include bleeding after the surgery, reactions to anesthesia, and scarring or discoloration of the surgical area. These risks are very minimal, and your surgeon will speak with you prior to the surgery about any risks that may be associated with your specific procedure.
How do I prepare for surgery?
While Dr. Walton will address any specific preparation issues based on your health and procedure type, the most common things you will be required to do prior to surgery include:
- Avoid taking aspirin, some anti-inflammatory prescriptions, and some herbal supplements prior to the surgery. These medications and supplements have blood thinning properties and can lead to excessive bleeding during and after surgery.
- You may be required to have certain lab tests performed prior to being authorized for the surgery. This is on a case-by-case basis.
- You may need to take a special medication or have current medications you are using adjusted for a short time before surgery.
You will also be given special instructions on what to do the day of the surgery. Your surgeon will also discuss with you the anesthesia that is being used for the procedure and any associated risks.
How long will I be out of work?
In many cases, you can return to work in a few days. This will be based on what type of procedure you have and the anticipated recovery time. Dr. Walton will give you this information prior to surgery.
You are always encouraged to make a list of questions that you have about any procedure you are about to undergo and speak with your surgeon prior to the procedure to have these questions answered.
For an appointment, please call Grace at our Chicago plastic surgery office at 312-337-7795 or fill out the contact form in this page. We look forward to meeting you and helping you achieve your image transformation here in Chicago.