For a child, few things are more embarrassing than protruding or malformed ears. Teasing and ridicule at school can really impact the way a child develops his or her self-confidence and overall self-image.
Otoplasty is the clinical term for ear re-shaping surgery. While it is usually performed on children, otoplasty can fix the ears of anyone of any age. Dr. Ferraro also uses ear surgery to fix issues such as torn and overstretchedearlobes.
What can be fixed with otoplasty?
Ear surgery can address a number of conditions. The most common focus is to “pin” the ears closer to the head. Here are the conditions solved with otoplasty:
- Protruding ears
- Overly large ears
- Misshapen ears
- Lop ear (the top of the ear folds downward)
- Shell ear (There is no outer border of cartilage)
- Overly large earlobes
- Torn or stretched earlobes
- Earlobes with creases and wrinkles
Timing of otoplasty
When pinning the ears in a child, the surgery can happen as soon as age four. At this point, the ears are basically fully grown. Plus, this timeframe has the added benefit of heading off teasing in school before it can happen.
For others, otoplasty can be performed, and be beneficial, at any age.
How is ear surgery done?
When the ears are to be pinned, younger patients are generally put under general anesthesia to alleviate nervousness. For older patients, local anesthesia is usually all that’s needed.
The procedure begins with Dr. Ferraro making a small incision behind the ear in the crease where the ear meets the head. Cartilage is then sculpted, shaped, and bent into a new position to achieve the desired proximity to the head.
Sometimes, if only one ear is the object, the other ear still receives some attention to achieve symmetry between both ears.
Earlobe repair simply involves bringing the sides back together. The goal, obviously, is to minimize scarring. In the future, earrings need to not be worn in the area of the incision.
Patients have a bandage wrapped around their head after surgery. After a few days this will be replaced with surgical dressings that need to be worn for the remainder of the first week. At that time, stitches will be removed. There will be some throbbing for a couple of days, but that can be managed with pain medication. Patients need to avoid sleeping on the affected ear or ears for about two weeks. Children can return to school after about one week.