What is Otoplasty?
Otoplasty is surgery to correct the shape of the ear. This is most often done to address prominence of one or both ears that is present from birth or infancy. There is significant variation in the severity and shape of prominent ears. Usually it is a combination of outward rotation of the entire ear as well as a failure to properly and completely form the natural folds of the ear. This surgery can be done for children after they are 3 years of age and at any age for an adult.
Benefits of Ear Surgery
This surgery has a very high rate of success in achieving a normal appearance of the ears and excellent symmetry. This allows patients to stop wearing hats, to start having a short hair style, or to be able to wear their hair pulled back or up. The incisions are well concealed behind the ears, and the outward appearance is very natural.
The Otoplasty Procedure
Otoplasty is done under general anesthetic for children, but can be done under local anesthetic for adults. Dr. Goldberg uses long acting local anesthetic to prevent sensitization of pain nerves and significantly reduce discomfort after surgery. The incisions are made on the back surface of the ear(s). The cartilage of the ear is then reshaped by sculpting and then suturing to retain the shape. Dissolving stitches are used. A fluffy dressing is put over the ears to help protect and compress them, and this is left in place for 5-7 days after surgery.
Recovery From Otoplasty
Dr. Goldberg prescribes several medications to ensure your comfort. These usually include Celecoxib and Percocet to control inflammation and pain. You are also asked to take an antibiotic such as Cephalexin for 1 week. After 1 week the dressing is taken off and you can then begin taking showers. At this time you need to wear a light elastic headband, such as a sweatband or similar, for 5 weeks. You can resume regular activities 2 weeks after surgery. However, you should avoid contact sports and even swimming for 6 weeks after surgery to avoid possible injury to the ears while they are healing
There are general risks with Otoplasty such as bruising, bleeding, infection, and risks associated with general anesthetic (if it is done using general anesthetic). There are also some specific risks. Although Dr. Goldberg pays close attention to obtaining symmetry during surgery, it is possible that the ears may not be exactly equal, which may be a result of pre-existing asymmetry or variation during surgery. Rarely sutures may come loose or a patient may sustain an injury to the area that causes a recurrence of the deformity, thus necessitating a further operation. Sometimes the sutures that are used to reshape the cartilage may extrude or spit-out from the incision months after the surgery. This does not cause infection or recurrence, and is a minor nuisance that can be easily remedied with a visit to Dr. Goldberg. Very rarely a severe infection can develop which causes injury to the cartilage of the ear and needs further surgery.
Alternatives To Otoplasty
Non-surgical alternatives are the use of a headband or modification of hairstyle in order to camouflage prominent ears. There is no surgical alternative.