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Ear Correction (Otoplasty)

What is an Otoplasty (Ear Correction) 

An otoplasty procedure can help men, women and children of all ages to overcome the embarrassment and distress caused by irregular shaped or protruding ears. 

It is now widely accepted that it can be psychologically harmful for children and adolescents to leave protruding and irregular shaped ears to become a point of undue attention throughout the developing years. Consequently, otoplasty surgery is one of the most commonly performed cosmetic procedures provided to children. 

The ultimate objective is for the surgeon to create a natural, proportionate and symmetrical (even) looking appearance, leaving no visible sign that surgery has taken place. 

An otoplasty procedure can involve the surgical refining of the size, the shape and the position of the ear, or a combination of all three.

What kind of people request this procedure?

  • Children and adolescents who are self conscious about their protruding ears
  • Men and women who are restricted by the way camouflaging their protruding ears causes compromise to their choice of hairstyle
  • Men who find that as they grow older their hair thins, creating a subsequent difficulty in camouflaging their ear shape

How is an otoplasty procedure performed?

An otoplasty is performed by refining or thinning the cartilaginous structure from behind the ear. Surgical incisions are ordinarily placed behind the ear in the natural crease (where the ear margin joins the side of the head) and consequently scars from this particular procedure are not usually visible. 

Occasionally, for the correction of large ear lobes, external incisions may need to be positioned on or around the lobe area, but these incisions are usually insignificant in size and tend to blend in with the natural contour and creases around the ear lobe once healing is complete. 

Following the surgical re-contouring of the cartilage, the skin at the back of the ear is redraped and secured in place by surgical sutures (stitches) and then supported in the new position by a carefully applied, turban style pressure bandage. This pressure bandage typically stays in place for around five to seven days following surgery. 

This procedure is usually performed as a day case under local anaesthetic or may involve a one night’s stay in hospital if performed under general anaesthetic. Under normal conditions a typical otoplasty procedure can take around one to one and a half hours to perform.

What are the results like?

This particular procedure can provide excellent results, freeing men and women from the unwanted attention that can be caused by large, irregular or protruding ears. 

This corrective procedure is a very precise one and should only be performed by a Consultant Plastic Surgeon or Consultant E.N.T Surgeon who is fully qualified and experienced to skillfully perform this type of surgery. 

Obviously improved results will take place almost immediately following otoplasty surgery, but these results will be initially obscured by support bandaging (turban) and then the bruising and swelling which typically follows this type of procedure. 

It can take 7 to 14 days for this initial swelling and bruising to settle to an acceptable appearance. After initial swelling has settled down, subtle improvements to the contour of the newly shaped ear will take place for up to six months following surgery.

Are there any risks involved in ear reshaping surgery?

All surgery involves an element of risk from developing complications. However, cosmetic surgery is usually undertaken voluntarily and on customers in good health. Therefore, the probability of developing complications from this kind of surgery are substantially lower than those who undergo surgery due to ill health. 

Risks such as bleeding, alteration in sensitivity, delayed healing, infection, asymmetry and scarring will all be discussed quite openly at consultation, as well as our scrupulous efforts to manage and minimise these risks to their lowest possible potential. 

It is often reported that altered sensitivity and numbness to the ears is a common side effect for up to 12 months following otoplasty surgery. 

Mostly, the fine incisions and subsequent scars made during this procedure are well hidden behind the ear. However, the appearance of scars (which generally fade progressively after surgery) are a highly individual matter. Usually these fine scars mature, soften and fade to a negligible level. 

Occasionally, customers can develop firm, raised, discoloured scarring, known as hypertrophic or keloid scarring, which may require further corrective treatment.

How will you feel after an Otoplasty procedure and what is the recovery period like?

Following an otoplasty procedure the ear incision and surrounding skin area are often quite tender for several weeks following surgery. Analgesic tablets (pain killers) are always provided for any discomfort and customers are encouraged to stay as upright as possible during their early recovery stage to help diminish residual swelling and bruising. 

Patients usually describe the way they feel as ‘sore and uncomfortable’ rather than experiencing specific pain. These symptoms typically diminish rapidly after post-operative bandaging is removed. 

Following the removal of the post-operative turban style support bandaging (7-14 days post operation), patients are advised to gently shower and wash their hair on a daily basis in order to keep early healing wounds as clean as possible. 

Every surgeon’s otoplasty technique can differ slightly and surgical wounds can be sutured with either absorbable or unabsorbable stitches. If stitches need removing, they are normally removed five to seven days following surgery. 

Patients are asked to avoid any level of activity that would put undue strain on the newly operated areas and to avoid contact sports for six weeks following surgery. 

It is important for patients to keep their hands away from healing wounds and to pay meticulous attention to personal hygiene throughout the early post-operative period. Your nurse will provide instructions for managing the wound. 

Patients will also be advised to take a specific amount of recovery time away from work, dependent on the type of job they perform, but it is usual to take at least a week to rest and recover at home following this procedure.

What next?

The importance of a thorough pre-operative consultation with the actual Consultant Plastic or E.N.T. Surgeon who will perform your operation cannot be over stressed. You need time to consider all the benefits and risks of otoplasty surgery and the time and opportunity to reflect and consider all the information the surgeon offers you before you make a decision regarding your potential procedure. 

With Vive, each consultation is tailored to an individual’s needs, but a consultation will always involve a thorough evaluation of your present and past medical history and a physical examination of the problem area. Your Consultant Surgeon will take time to listen to your concerns and will take care to ensure that you have a

thorough understanding of what can be done to help, the procedure itself, the recovery stage and a clear explanation of the risks involved. 

You are positively encouraged to ask any questions that you may have at your consultation and to look at photographs of others who have had a similar type of surgery to the procedure you are considering. If you would find it helpful, our advisory team may be able to arrange for you to speak with a previous patient who is willing to discuss their experience with you over the telephone.

Hospitals offering this treatment

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