The size and shape of our ears is genetically predetermined and can vary significantly between individuals, as well as between the two sides on any one individual. The normal size of the ear is about 1/3 of the face, and forms an angle of 23-30o with the scalp. Any situation where the ears appear to be particularly prominent or the shape seems to be out of the normal, can be the source of teasing and ridicule, leading to significant psychological morbidity. Otoplasty or Ear correction or Ear Surgery is a surgical procedure to set prominent ears back closer to the head or to reduce the size of large ears.
When can Otoplasty be performed?
Otoplasty is usually performed after the age of 4 years, when the ears have completed 90% of their growth, and before the child begins school, where it can become the target of continuous taunts and teases. It could also be performed at a later age, even in adult life, if the appearance of the ears continues to be a problem.
How is Otoplasty performed?
In young children, a general anaesthetic is usually recommended, while in older children and adults a local anaesthetic may be used. The procedure is usually performed through a small incision in the back of the ear to expose the ear cartilage. The cartilage is then sculptured to achieve the desired form and shape and a number of sutures may be used to help maintain the new shape.
What can I expect after the Operation?
The procedure takes approximately 1 to 1 ½ hours. Hospitalization is not required. After the operation the ears are wrapped with a bulky head bandage for 2 days to promote the best molding and healing. After the bandage is removed, it is advised that a head band is worn at night and in crowded places for a further 3-4 weeks, to protect the ears. Pain is usually well tolerated and easily managed with regular painkillers. Significant bruising and swelling should be expected when the bandage comes off, but these subside over the next couple of weeks and the ears assume their final shape.
When can I resume my normal activities?
You should be up and about within a few hours of surgery, but bending and strenuous activities should be avoided for a couple of days. Adults can return to light duties within 1-2 days, and more demanding activities can be assumed after 5-7 days. Full recovery to your previous activities can be expected after 3-4 weeks. Children can go back to school after 1 week. Swimming is allowed after 2 weeks and contact sports should be discouraged for 4 weeks.