Otoplasty - Ear Pinning Surgery
What is Otoplasty?
Otoplasty is surgery designed to pin the ears closer to the head
or lessen the appearance of larger than average ears. It is most commonly
performed on children and teens. However, many young adults seek Otoplasty in
their life after earning enough to pay for the surgery themselves.
Some Otoplasties involve removing a sliver of cartilage from the
ear and suturing the cartilage back together allowing it to fuse together either
closer to the head or of a smaller size.
Ear pinning is not the only complaint that can be resolved by
Otoplasty. This procedure can correct ears that have congenital deformities as
well as those caused by trauma or bad habits of ear pulling.
Many toddlers tend to pull on their ears during the teething stage and this
habit may remain throughout their younger years well after their teeth have
emerged. Ear pulling or congenital deformities can leave children with stretched
earlobes (which can be corrected with a slight snip of the excess skin). As well
as the uncurling of the natural folds and the folding over of the top of the ear.
EXTRA! Did you know that ears can
now be grown in a petri dish? That's right! A base is made in the
shape of an ear out of dissolvable proteins or synthetic dissolvable agents and
cartilage and skin cells are then implanted. The petri dish is flushed with
nutrients and oxygenated serums, giving the ear life. The cells grow
and the underlying structure dissolves leaving only the newly formed ear.
You a Candidate for Otoplasty?
If you are a physically healthy and emotionally stable individual
you are more than likely a candidate for Otoplasty. There really is no
restriction on having an Otoplasty. As long as you are healthy and are not prone
to Keloids, hypertrophic scarring, no wound healing problems, or autoimmune
should be fine. Just make sure you discuss any health concerns with your surgeon
To Expect At Your Consultation
Your surgeon will discuss your
general complaints, concerns and expectations. You will disclose your full
medical history including scarring habits. If you are prone to
Keloid or hypertrophic scarring you may not be a good candidate. He will go over
the risks of Otoplasty as well as what can be realistically achieved. He should
discuss with you the medications that will be prescribed
as well as after care of your treatment site.
You will also discuss the available anesthesia
that will be used for your procedure. Most Otoplasty procedures are performed
under Light Sleep Sedation although some docs may use General Anesthesia,
especially for small children. Either way, discuss this beforehand as most
people are hesitant to go under General Anesthesia. If you do go under
General, you make sure that the anesthesiologist is certified! Please
read the All About Anesthesia Page, the risks regarding going
under are a whole different ball game entirely. I personally prefer
Light Sleep as the risks are lowered when General is excluded. Do realize though
that thousands of patients safely go under General every day.
You will more than likely look at patient
before and after photos and discuss what you desire and what the surgeon
believes could be accomplished. It is possible for your insurance to cover
this particular procedure.
For Your Surgery
You will be given a pre-operative information packet that explains everything
you should do and know before your surgery date. The packet should include
all the medications you should not take for up to 2 weeks before your surgery.
These medications will include, but are not limited to, aspirin containing
products. Would you like to view a typical Medication
& Supplements List? Also, your surgeon may or may not advise you of the
benefits of Arnica montana for swelling and bruising. Would you like to learn of
the benefits of Arnica
It is quite possible that you will have
preliminary blood work
performed. This is normally an extra out-of-pocket expense that the patient must
participate in to check your white and red blood cell count (complete blood
count, CBC) which ultimately alerts your surgeon to disease or disorders beforehand.
So many things to do... so little time. Surgery will be here before you know
it so visit the Preparing
For Surgery page and relax. This section contains, printer-friendly pre-op
lists, tips and advice as well as things you must do to prepare for your big
Otoplasty Is Performed
Otoplasty may not be a relatively simple operation
but it is not as complex as nose surgery or breast augmentation. It is
normally performed on children of a very young age (after the age of four to
six) normally under General anesthesia. The reason that children are often out
under General for surgery is the possibility of a child waking up and the trauma
caused at this young age. Children tend to fidget and are put under totally for
complete control over actions in this state, by the surgery staff.
For adults, the surgery is normally performed under Light
Sleep Anesthesia or local with IV sedation. Although some doctors may prefer
General still. General is more expensive, more risky and you may get sick
because of it regardless if you are given medications to counteract its side
The surgery generally takes about 2 to three hours to perform.
Marks will have been made prior to any cutting as to where the incisions will be
made to create a base to suture the folds closer to the head. The incisions are
made on these markings, the skin and cartilage removed or molded, the ear folds
resituated, fastened within with non-dissolving sutures, the outside incisions
may be sutured with dissolving or non-dissolving stitches to be removed by the
surgeon at a later date. and bandaged. You will be instructed to not touch!
these bandages until the doctor unveils your new ears.
The Road to Recovery
The recovery for Otoplasty is
pretty minimal. Although one must be very careful not to disturb the ear and
head bandages. This may be especially difficult in children as they tend to
fidget, as said before. The ears may sting, throb and ache for a week and may
may latent stinging or itching during the healing process. You should be able to
alleviate this discomfort with your prescribed pain medications.
The surgeon will have wrapped your head in
bandages to mold and apply pressure to your ears to protect them and aid in
healing. These bandages will be removed in about 3 to 5 days. Do not get them
wet, with your head elevated and tale care not to touch the ears whatsoever.
Your surgeon will then cleanse your incisions and apply a light gauze dressing
to further aid in its healing and end result as well as to protect the wound.
These dressings will be removed in a few more days and your surgeon will
instruct you in the care of your newly formed ears.
and Complications Associated With Otoplasty
As with any surgery, there may be
allergic reactions to the anesthesia or medications. There may be hematoma (blood clots)
or excessive scar tissue formation. There may be infection which would require
possible additional surgery, but more than likely additional antibiotics. There may be the simple dissatisfaction of the results as well.
The First Month After Surgery
The pressure dressing is removed after five to seven days. Children should be kept
relatively quiet during that time. The dressing should not get wet. After removal of the
dressing, a sweat band should be worn, at night only, to protect the ears until the end of
the sixth post-operative week. Normal non-strenuous activity may be resumed two days after
surgery. The patient should refrain from bending over for 3 weeks, keeping the head higher
than the heart during that time. Nor should the patient sleep on his side for 3 weeks.
Routine exercise may begin at the end of the fourth post-operative week. Contact sports
may be restarted at the end of the sixth post-operative week.
It is also the norm for the ears to feel numb for 2 to 3 months after the
operation. The sensation returns slowly over that time. This is the reason that there is
generally no pain in the post-operative period, just minor discomfort. This fact makes the operation
exceptionally well tolerated in children.
Least You Need To Know
Have realistic expectations and be prepared to be
down for at least a week for proper healing.
Otoplasty can be performed under General, Light Sleep Sedation
or Local with IV sedation.
Know the risks
of Otoplasty -- no matter how minor you think a
surgery may be -- there are risks!
read the All About Anesthesia Page -- the risks regarding
under are a whole different ball game entirely.
Do not touch your ears or sleep on your side for at least 3
weeks. This is important for proper healing for the desired position closest
to the head (without being too close).
Research your doctor as much as you can, if you need help with
what to ask your surgeon at your consultation -- visit the Consultation
Research! You can never be too informed.