According to at least one study, one in 100 people are self-conscious about their ears. It’s usually because they protrude. Many people are surprised that there’s actually a surgery that can reshape the ears. It’s called otoplasty.
Otoplasty can be performed on people of any age, but most cosmetic surgeons prefer to perform ear reshaping surgery on people who are about six years old and up. This is because the ears are just about their adult size at that age. There’s no upper age limit for the operation and one or both ears can be operated on.
The plastic surgeon will take a medical history of the prospective patient. This will include learning of any developmental disorders or problems with hearing. The ears will be examined, compared to each other and measured. The patient and the surgeon will agree upon the best ear reshaping procedure for the patient’s ears.
Right before the surgery the surgeon will mark the area of the incision sites and give the patient a sedative, though general anesthesia might also be used. He will then perform one of two operations to reshape the ears.
In the first technique, the surgeon will find a place on the back of the ear to make an incision. Then, he will re-sculpt the exposed ear cartilage and reposition it closer to the head. Permanent sutures will be used to help the cartilage stay in place.
In the second treatment, skin is elevated from the ear and the cartilage is gently scored on one side with a device called an otobrader. This softens the cartilage which allows it to be folded back. After marking the cartilage, stitches are sewn through the back of the ear cartilage without going all the way through to the front of the ear. After groups of these permanent sutures are sewn in, they’re tied down. This helps to create a more normal appearance and a smooth curvature to the inner ear fold. The bowl of the ear can also be tilted back and the earlobe can also be adjusted. Absorbable or non-absorbable sutures will then be applied to close the skin. The former will dissolve within a week or so, while the later will be removed by the otoplasty surgeon in the same time period.
After the surgery, a compression dressing is placed and the patient is moved to a recovery room for monitoring. The ears will be bruised and swollen and a bit numb for the first few days after the surgery and healing should be complete within six weeks. Otoplasty can be an outpatient procedure though some patients spend the night in the hospital.