Otoplasty (Ear Surgery)
Ear surgery typically serves two functions: setting prominent ears back closer to the head, and reducing the size of large ears. Surgery may also be helpful for “lop ear,” “cupped ear” and “shell ear,” microtia, large or stretched earlobes, and lobes with large creases and wrinkles. Surgeons are also able to construct new ears for patients who are missing them from injury or other causes.
Although surgery for adults is available, the operation is most often performed on children aged 4 to 14. Ears are almost fully grown by age 4, and early surgery can prevent a child from being teased in school.
Otoplasty lasts from two to three hours and may be performed in a hospital, office-based facility or an outpatient surgery center. General anesthesia is recommended for very young patients, while local anesthesia and a sedative are used for older children and adults.
During surgery, a small incision is made behind the ear, revealing the cartilage which is then sculpted and bent into its new position and stitched into place. In some types of otoplasty, skin is removed but the cartilage is left in one piece and merely bent back on itself for a smaller-looking ear. To achieve better balance, both ears may be operated on even if only one has a problem.