Protruding, misplaced and malformed ears are the source of much anguish, particularly among children and teenagers. Teasing and taunting at school can undermine self-confidence and lead to poor academic performance. Houston-based plastic surgeon Dr. Bryan Correa sees many adults and children who are unhappy with the size and position of their ears and want to get rid of the source of their self-consciousness, using a procedure called otoplasty.
What to expect from otoplasty surgery
The correction for protruding ears is done by making an incision behind the ear in the creases or where it naturally meets the head. Excess cartilage and skin is either removed or repositioned so that the ear will lie closer to the head in a more normal position. Strong sutures are utilized to keep them ‘pinned-back’ to their new and more normal position.
Following the surgery, dressings will be applied to the ears and usually a headband will also be used to keep the ears in place and protected until the healing process is well underway. There may be some mild discomfort which is easily managed with pain medication. Sleeping may be disrupted for a few weeks if the patient is accustomed to sleeping on their side as the ears must not have any pressure on them.
Adults who wish to correct poor results from earlier ear surgery, or who want to improve their appearance are always candidates for otoplasty as long as they have no other medical conditions that would disqualify them from elective surgery. It is never too late to correct these unwanted conditions. Dr. Correa wants you to look and feel good by after receiving your Otoplasty procedure.
Can children have corrective ear surgery?
Ear surgery, or otoplasty, to correct these defects can be done at a very young age—as soon as the ears are fully developed. This is usually around the age of 5-8. Many children can have corrective ear surgery before they start first grade to avoid having to cope with teasing about their appearance. It is important that very young children be evaluated by Dr. Correa to determine if they are mature enough to handle the surgery, can follow directions well enough to ensure a good outcome, and if they have any objections to the surgery. If they are not emotionally equipped to deal with ear surgery, they can be regularly followed up with and then scheduled for surgery when they have gained some maturity. Dr. Correa wants to produce the best results possible for your Otoplasty procedure, and takes every precaution necessary to ensure the procedure is done smoothly and when the patient is ready.
Does otoplasty have the potential of causing hearing loss?
Any reshaping of the ears that is done will not result in hearing loss. The folds of the ears do serve to concentrate sound waves, but reshaping or pinning the ears back will have no effect on the patient’s ability to hear.
Otoplasty can correct structural ear defects present at birth or caused by injury, as well as correct the size of ears that are disproportionately large or malformed. Protruding ears on one or both sides can be repositioned to achieve balance and symmetry of appearance.
Correcting defects in the ear not associated with hearing loss can have a life-changing effect on self-esteem. In the case of children, this can protect them from years of teasing and the potential of poor academic adjustment, particularly when they change schools and have to create new friendships.
Ear Gauge Surgery
Ear gauges (earrings intended to dilate the hole from an ear piercing) represent a common and popular trend in body piercing. While the ear gauges are in place, the desired look is obtained. However, upon removal of the gauge the ear has a less-than-aesthetic appearance and unfortunately commonly needs surgery to correct it if one does not plan on continuing use of the Ear Gauges.
Recovery from otoplasty
Recovery time is accomplished in phases. The main dressing can usually come off in 5 to 7 days. There will be some swelling evident, but adults can return to work without dressings after this initial period. For several weeks patients will wear a compressive headband to ensure there is no folding or pulling of the ear while sleeping. Exercise can resume within a few weeks, although contact sports and other high-risk sports will have to be postponed for several months. We will help ensure you have a smooth recovery from your ear surgery with Dr. Correa.