Otoplasty/Ear Reshaping is a surgical procedure that changes the appearance of a person's external ears to help the ears look better. Ears that stick out too far are adjusted to fit closer to the sides of the head. Otoplasty can take many forms, such as bringing the ears closer to the head, reducing the size of very big ears, or reshaping various bends in the cartilage.
Otoplasty/Ear Reshaping is one of the few types of plastic surgery that is commonly performed on children. Most types of cosmetic surgery should not be done before the features have stopped growing, but the ears are usually at or close to their adult size when during early childhood. Ear reshaping is often done on children aged 4 to 6, as are corrections of malformed ears. In some instances, health insurance will cover the costs of otoplasty to fix a deformed ear because the external ear plays a role in hearing.
An otoplasty procedure generally takes about 1 to 2 hours to perform under general sedation. An incision will be made at the back of the ear, in a natural fold where the scar will be hidden, and a vertical slice of the cartilage will be removed, perhaps along with some skin. Creating a fold in the cartilage makes the ear lie flatter against the head. The incision will be closed and the ear will be bandaged.
After the surgery, a pressure dressing is placed around the patient’s head to compress the ears slightly and hold everything in place. The dressing is removed at the first postoperative visit. The patient should sleep face up with the head slightly elevated. The patient should NOT bend over, flex the head downward or exercise for two weeks following surgery.
Otoplasty is a very low risk surgery, but all surgery has risks and complications. With otoplasty, these include allergic reaction to the anesthetic used and infection. There is the slight chance that the ears will not be symmetrical or that scar tissue can be visible. If there is bleeding in the ear, it can cause the ear to become misshapen as it turns into scar tissue. However, this is usually rare. Numbness is possible, it usually subsides within the first few weeks but it may become a permanent issue.