Ear Surgery / Otoplasty
Ear deformity at an early age, especially at birth or during the first month of life, could be addressed by splinting technique. Ear surgery, or otoplasty, is usually done on children above the age of five or six to set prominent ears back closer to the head or to reduce the size of large ears. Ears are almost fully grown by then, and the earlier the surgery, the less teasing the child will have to endure. Ear surgery on adults is also possible, and there are generally no additional risks associated with ear surgery in either age group.
Most surgeons recommend that parents stay alert to their child's feelings about protruding ears; they shouldn't insist on the surgery until the child wants the change. Children who feel uncomfortable about their ears and want the surgery are generally more cooperative during the process and happier with the outcome. Ear surgery is usually performed as an out-patient procedure, or at a hospital that may require admission (usually for pediatric patients). Occasionally, a surgeon may recommend that the procedure be done as an in-patient procedure depending on the patient's age and other medical conditions. The surgeon makes a small incision at the back of the ear. He or she will then sculpt the cartilage and bend it back toward the head. Non-absorbable stitches may be used to help maintain the new shape. Occasionally, the surgeon may remove a piece of cartilage to provide a more natural-looking fold when the surgery is complete. In less complicated cases, skin is removed and stitches are used to fold the cartilage back on itself to reshape the ear without reshaping cartilage. This is done either under local or general anesthesia, depending on the patient's age. In most cases, there is a faint scar at the back of the ear that will fade with time.