Frequently Asked Questions About Otoplasty

Even if you have the good fortune to enjoy normal hearing, you might still feel less than completely happy with the appearance of your outer ears. You might have ears that look larger or smaller than normal, or you might have normal-sized ears that protrude noticeably, making you feel self-conscious.

Fortunately, modern medicine can correct these kinds of issues through a form of plastic surgery known as otoplasty. Check out the answers to the following frequently asked questions about otoplasty to help you determine whether this kind of procedure makes sense for you.

What Ear Abnormalities Might Call for Otoplasty?

The semi-circular assembly of skin and cartilage that makes up the pinna (outer ear) helps to funnel sound waves into the ear. However, people mainly think of the outer ear as a visual feature. Even when an outer ear abnormality still allows you to hear perfectly, you may want to alter your outer ear shape for purely cosmetic purposes.

Many people have outer ears that look disproportionately large for their heads (a problem called macrotia). Others have outer ears that stick straight out to the sides instead of lying back against the head. Yet others have unusually tiny or even nonexistent pinna (microtia). All of these conditions can respond well to otoplasty.

Some individuals have normally-shaped, normally-sized ears but need to repair a torn or stretched earlobe. Although cosmetic surgeons can fix these problems as well, they usually regard earlobe repair as its own distinct category of surgery, separate from otoplasty. (You can have both procedures together if necessary.)

How Do Cosmetic Surgeons Reduce Ear Size or Prominence?

To reduce the size of excessive large ears, a cosmetic surgeon will typically make an incision behind the pinna, where the ear meets the side of the head, while also trimming away or reshaping cartilage and other unwanted tissue. Sutures hold the ear in its new and improved shape until the tissue heals that way.

Cosmetic surgeons use a technique called ear pinning to bring one or both protruding ears into a more normal-looking position. This procedure resembles ear reduction in that the surgeon may trim some tissue from behind the ear. Sutures then pin the ears back and encourage them to heal into their new position.

How Do Cosmetic Surgeons Correct Small or Missing Ear Features?

Cosmetic surgery can restore an incomplete, undersized, or missing pinna. Traditional techniques involve the removal of a piece of rib cartilage, which the surgeon then shapes into the desired form. The surgeon then implants this frame beneath the skin, which grows over it to assume a natural outer ear shape.

Refinements in this procedure have led to a less invasive technique called Medpor ear reconstruction, named after the porous polyethylene material used as the underlying shape for the new pinna. The use of this synthetic implant allows the surgeon to skip the removal of rib cartilage that you might otherwise have to undergo.

What Should You Expect From Otoplasty?

Your plastic surgeon will determine whether you make a good candidate for otoplasty. Good otoplasty candidates avoid smoking, have no underlying health challenges that impair healing, and have realistic expectations about the outcome. Children aged five and older can undergo otoplasty if they have no untreated ear infections.

You may receive either local anesthesia or general anesthesia, depending on the length and scale of your procedure. After surgery, you’ll need to keep your ear or ears bandaged for several days, sleeping on your back to avoid damaging them. After your surgeon removes the bandages, you’ll wear a protective headband for a few weeks.

Redness, swelling, and discomfort may develop after an otoplasty. Your plastic surgeon can recommend or prescribe the proper pain relievers to improve your comfort as you heal. Report any sudden worsening of pain to your doctor right away, just in case you need evaluation and treatment for complications such as an infection.

Jaibaji Plastic Surgery can alter the shape, size, or position of your outer ears to rid you of any cosmetic abnormalities that you may feel embarrassed about. Contact our clinic today to schedule an initial consultation.