Otoplasty describes a variety of surgical techniques that correct cosmetic problems with the appearance of the ears. Patients may decide to undergo otoplasty if they are unhappy with their ear size, shape, or position – frequently, patients may believe that their ears are asymmetrical or overly protruding.
If you are suffering from any of these issues, schedule a consultation with Dr. Anureet Bajaj to learn more about this versatile procedure.
- 1 What is Otoplasty?
- 2 Important Otoplasty Terms
- 3 Issues Otoplasty Can Correct
- 4 Ear Surgery Candidates
- 5 Otoplasty Techniques
- 6 Consultation
- 7 Preparing for Otoplasty
- 8 Surgical Procedure
- 9 Recovery Process
- 10 Results
- 11 Cost
What is Otoplasty?
Otoplasty aims to surgically alter the position, size, and form of the ear to create a more pleasing overall appearance for the patient. The surgery creates a customized shape and location for each ear to make sure they both appear even and proportionate to the rest of the face.
Important Otoplasty Terms
- Pinna/Auricle: External part of the ear.
- Cartilage: Rubbery tissue that makes up the pinna, as well as other parts of the body like the nostrils.
- Helix: The protruding rim of the pinna.
- Antihelical fold: Arched fold of cartilage running parallel to the helix.
- Concha: Concave section of the pinna around the ear canal.
- Earlobe: Soft, fleshy part on the bottom of the pinna.
- Scapha: Indented channel between the helix and adjacent antihelical fold.
- Acoustic meatus: Ear canal.
Issues Otoplasty Can Correct
Patients may decide to get ear surgery to repair one or more cosmetic problems with the ear.
Otoplasty can be performed to decrease the size of ears that are disproportionately large, a condition also known as hypertrophy. The kind of reduction involved to decrease ear size varies widely depending on the particular dimensions of the ear – for instance, a procedure to reduce the size of the upper third will be significantly different from one that seeks to reduce an overly large lobe, or simple protrusion.
Common deformities that can be corrected by otoplasty include:
- Constricted ear: The pinna appears unusually small in size and juts out from the head to an abnormally high degree.
- Cryptotic ear: Also referred to as a hidden ear, this condition is when the helix is actually concealed beneath the skin.
- Macrotic ear: An overly prominent ear that also has overly large pinna.
- Underdeveloped antihelical fold
- Microtia: Small ears.
- Macrotia: Large ears or large pinna.
- Cauliflower ear: Deformity caused by blunt force or trauma, sometimes accompanied by blood clotting or hematoma. This condition is common in athletes, especially boxers and wrestlers who often sustain injuries to the side of the head.
- Cancerous malignancies on the ear
Ears that protrude from the head to some degree are very common. Frequently, overly prominent ears can affect a patient’s self-confidence. Otoplasty can improve the appearance and correct the prominence by “pinning” back the ear.
If one ear is larger, lower, higher, or sticks out more than the other, Dr. Bajaj can balance them by surgically altering one or both ears.
Ear Surgery Candidates
Otoplasty is more often undertaken on teenage or adult candidates, but children can also be considered if they have sufficiently firm cartilage to allow a safe surgery, typically after the age of five. Some children are born with ear deformities, a series of conditions which affects between 20 and 30 percent of newborns, and parents may wish to address this issue as early as possible. In certain cases a version of non-surgical otoplasty, or “tissue molding”, can be performed to correct the deformity – this type of molding must be performed in the newborn period to be effective. Otherwise the problem can be fixed surgically after the age of five.
Older patients that have cosmetic or medical problems with one or both ears should be assessed to ensure they are healthy enough to have surgery. Smoking and certain medications may put you at a higher risk of complication. It is beneficial to have a specific and realistic expectation of what you would like the surgery to achieve before actually undergoing surgery.
There are a few different approaches to ear surgery that depend on which issue you would like to address and Dr. Bajaj’s expert advice about the procedure.
This method enhances the size of the ears if the patient feels they are too small, and addresses issues like an underdeveloped pinna or absent pinna (microtia or annotia, respectively). This can also be done for asymmetrical ear size if one is both disproportionately small and unequal.
Pinning Back the Ear
Otopexy is undertaken for exaggerated prominence of the ears which makes them appear too large. To do this, Dr. Bajaj will most often make an incision in the back of the ear and suture it so that it lies flatter against the head – while still leaving space for reading glasses or sunglasses.
Ear reductions are more common than augmentation and work in several different ways to reduce the size of an excessively large ear, also known as macrotia. This can be performed on a specific part of the appendage or several depending on your reshaping preferences.
In some instances a version of the otoplasty procedure may be performed without the need for incision. This technique is primarily done for babies with birth defects that make the ear or ears appear warped and requires molding of the ear.
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Anu Bajaj in Oklahoma to see if otoplasty is a good option for you. Dr. Bajaj will examine you and offer you choices that will be effective for your case; she will also discuss what you can expect in terms of the procedure and its results, any potential risks or side effects, and the estimated costs of your surgical options. Otoplasty before and after pictures will be available for viewing, but please keep in mind each procedure is tailored to the individual so results will vary.
Preparing for Otoplasty
Because ear surgery is deeply individualized, the preparation measures you will be asked to take will depend on your own procedure plans. Be sure to discuss any health conditions and any medications you take with Dr. Bajaj; she may require you to alter them. These medications may include aspirin, ibuprofen, and any other drugs that increase the risk of blood loss during surgery.
Depending on the specific otoplasty procedure, the the procedure can be performed with either a general or local anesthetic, the latter of which can be used together with intravenous (IV) sedation if appropriate. Dr. Bajaj’s chosen surgical approach will dictate the type and location of incisions. Most otoplasty procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, and surgery times can range from one to three hours depending on the extent of the case.
The full recovery time for otoplasty can take several months. The patient is required to wear surgical dressing and a compression bandage around the head to protect the ear during the first couple of days, after which this garment is replaced with a looser headband as the need. All bandages may be removed about seven days after the surgery date, and Dr. Bajaj will indicate whether a headband should be worn at night or more often. This period is when a large amount of the swelling will go down, and patients can usually return to work within a week.
During the healing period, patients should take the following measures:
- Avoid sleeping on the side of the face.
- Avoid any strenuous physical activity.
- Avoid high heat, including blow dryers and heaters within close proximity.
- Be very careful when brushing your hair and when wearing glasses.
- Stay away from harsh hair products, soaps, and shampoo.
- Get plenty of rest and maintain a healthy lifestyle to promote proper healing.
- Follow Dr. Bajaj’s personalized care instructions carefully, including filling prescriptions for any recommended pain medications and applying any ointments he recommends as well.
The final results of your otoplasty procedure will become fully visible after the swelling and bruising diminish. Be aware that what you see in the days immediately after the procedure does not represent that long-term outcome of surgery, which only becomes evident with time and healing. Otoplasty operations should be permanent and keep your ear looking aesthetically pleasing and proportionate.
The costs associated with otoplasty procedures are wide-ranging due to the surgery’s highly customizable nature. During your consultation Dr. Bajaj can discuss pricing options and provide some estimates based on his physical evaluation, your specific cosmetic issues, and the results you are looking to achieve through surgery.