Ear surgery, also known as otoplasty, is usually done to position prominent ears back closer to the head or to reduce the size of large ears or large earlobes. This procedure creates a better balance to the face. The repair of long holes or divided earlobes from earring injuries can also be corrected.
For the most part, the operation is done on children between the ages of four and 14. Ears are almost fully grown by age four, and the earlier the surgery, the less teasing and ridicule the child will have to endure. Ear surgery on adults is also possible, and there are generally no additional risks associated with ear surgery on an older patient. Often, patients wear their hair long to help conceal their protruding ears.
Ear surgery usually takes about two to three hours, although complicated procedures may take longer. The technique will depend on the problem. Sensation and ability to hear are maintained.
From Left to Right: Illustration 1: Ears that appear to stick out or are overly large can be helped by ear surgery. Illustrations 2: An incision is made in the back of the ear so cartilage can be sculpted or folded. Stitches are used to close the incision and help maintain the new shape. Illustrations 3: Creating a fold in the cartilage makes the ear lie flatter against the head and appear more normal.
An incision is made in the back of the ear to expose the ear cartilage. The cartilage is then sculpted and bent back with toward the head. Non-removable stitches are often used to help maintain the new shape. Occasionally, cartilage is partially removed to help with the setback.
In most cases, ear surgery will leave a permanent, faint scar in the back of the ear that will fade with time. Even when only one ear appears to protrude, surgery is often performed on both ears for a better balance.
You can go home and resume normal light activities the same or next day. Dressings are light and worn for only several days. Pain is minimal and is mostly gone within a week or two. Showering is permitted the next day after surgery. You may experience mild to moderate swelling the first 2 or 3 days which diminishes over the next 3 weeks. There is minimal to no bruising for this procedure. Sutures are removed at about 7 days. A headband is worn at night for 6 to 8 weeks.
You can expect to have a more normal balanced relationship of the ears to the rest of the face. The results are usually permanent.