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Otoplasty 101

While facelifts, tummy tucks and nose surgery tend to dominate the discussion when it comes to plastic surgery, one common surgery that is regularly performed on both children and adults is otoplasty. Also known as “ear plastic surgery,” otoplasty is just that – a procedure that cosmetically alters or corrects the ears, either from congenital defects or from trauma suffered to the area.

Why Have it Done?

Think of ears somewhat as you’d think of someone’s teeth – they’re noticeable. And just as people may become self conscious about crooked teeth and their subsequent smile, many people may feel the same way about their ears. For children, ear irregularities that they’re born with can also affect their psyche and self-esteem if they’re the victim of teasing and bullying. This can psychologically devastate a child. The most common ear irregularity is prominotia – or protruding ears. This condition is extremely common, occurring in approximately 1 in 20 individuals.

Some additional otoplasty candidates involve those with the following congenital defects:

  • Cagot Ear, where the earlobe is absent.
  • Cat’s Ear, where the ear edges are folded forward.
  • Lop Ear, where the ear curves inward.
  • Scroll Ear, where the ear curves forward.
  • Macrotia, or abnormally large ears.
  • Microtia, or abnormally small ears.

Patients may also seek otoplasty because of trauma suffered to the ears, such as:

  • Cauliflower ear, where cartilage separates and fills with fluid, deforming the ear. This is common among wrestlers and athletes.
  • Skin cancer, where otoplasty can help reconstruct tissue in some cases.
  • Other trauma and injuries.

The Procedure

As previously mentioned, otoplasty can be successfully performed on both child and adult patients. For children, it’s ideal to perform the procedure between the ages of 5 and 6, when the ear is almost adult size. In some cases, it can be performed on child patients as young as 4 years old. Otoplasty is safe, effective, relatively pain-free and requires little downtime among patients.

For adult patients, Dr. Wise performs otoplasty procedures in an office-based surgical center. Children, on the other hand, typically undergo the procedure at an ambulatory surgical center. Otoplasty for both children and adults are outpatient procedures and typically take about 1.5 to 2 hours. The big difference between treating a child and an adult is that children are typically sedated with general anesthesia, while adults are generally operated on with or without sedation anesthesia, depending on patient preference.

As previously noted, otoplasty is a safe surgery, involving little to no risk. Results can be seen immediately after surgery.

Post-Op

One of the big benefits to otoplasty, versus other types of plastic surgeries, is the minimal downtime involved following the procedure. Complications are rare, and the procedure is an outpatient one. Following surgery, patients are sent home with a light dressing around the ear or ears, which they must leave on until the next day.

After the light dressing is removed the day after surgery, patients are advised to wear a headband of their choosing around the treated area for one week. A week after surgery, most children are permitted to return to school and most adults are permitted to return to work within a few days. Other normal activities can also be resumed, although in some cases patients are advised not to exercise for at least a few weeks.

While otoplasty may still present some discomfort for patients, it’s not a particularly painful operation. Temporary pain and swelling can often be managed with Tylenol or prescription medicine. Recovery from ear plastic surgery occurs in stages. For instance, when the initial dressing is removed, there may still be some swelling. In fact, it may take up to 3 weeks for swelling to completely go down. Complete healing can actually take up to one year, but final results can often be observed within 1-2 months after surgery. Following complete healing, there is minimal scarring and natural looking results.

Contact Dr. Wise

For more information about otoplasty, contact the offices of Dr. Wise today. Dr. Wise is double-board certified, experienced and specializes in plastic surgery of the face, head and neck. He teaches facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at the NYU School of Medicine. He has given multiple lectures on cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the ear, and has authored numerous book chapters and articles in medical journals on the same subject. Contact the Wise Center for Plastic Surgery in Wayne, New Jersey today, either through the website at www.drwise.com or by calling 973-305-1400.

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