Ear Surgery: Otoplasty

Otoplasty is a procedure designed to pin back the ears closer to the head or reduce their size. This procedure can be performed on younger individuals to avoid being teased from others. This results in more natural-looking ears. The otoplasty procedure varies with every patient and their degree of ear deformity.

The operation usually takes about two to three hours and is performed in an outpatient setting under general or local anesthesia with sedation. During the operation, an incision is made behind the ear to hide any obvious marks of surgical intervention. Multiple, strategically placed, sutures are placed to shape the cartilage into normal folds, which were missing pre-operatively. The cartilage is then re-shaped using techniques of scoring, suturing, limited removal or combinations of the three.

The reshaped framework is then repositioned to achieve the best balance with the opposite side and to reduce excessive projection. The skin is redraped, any excess skin is removed, and the incision behind the ear is closed. A gentle pressure dressing is placed to prevent excessive fluid accumulation beneath the skin.

To reduce the swelling or collection of fluid beneath the skin, you’ll have a dressing on your head to put gentle pressure on your ears and maintain their new position. After about two or three days, the dressing will be removed. All of your incisions will be carefully closed with stitches. Some of the sutures will dissolve while other sutures will require removal in 7 to 10 days. You’ll be able to wash your hair as soon as your head dressing is removed on the second or third day after surgery.

Most patients experience very little pain following their procedure. There will be slight discomfort or soreness— mostly when you bump or move your ears. This will be for about a week or two. You’ll notice some swelling in the ears for two to three weeks following surgery. Most bruising will resolve in the first week or two. During this time, you can cover your ears with your hair.

Pre / Post Operative Instruction For Otoplasty
  • Keep head elevated (at least three inches above your heart) for two weeks following surgery. Sleep on your back and avoid lying on your side to prevent causing damage to your ears. It is okay to shower the day after surgery once the dressing is removed.
  • Do not bend over; this can cause excessive swelling and bruising.
  • Clean suture lines as directed in the instruction sheet.
  • Wear a headband (tight enough to support, but not so tight as to cause discomfort) continuously for the first week, then at night for the next 6 weeks, or as directed by your physician. You may remove the band to shower or bath, but please put it back on immediately.
  • No contact or racket sports for 6 weeks.
  • Most pain following surgery is minor if you have pain that cannot be relieved by the pain medication prescribed call our office immediately.
  • Do not pull on the ears.
  • Call if a hematoma (collection of blood under the skin) develops.
  • Remember, complete healing will take up to 6 months.

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