Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)

Man or woman, adult or child, sometimes there’s a need for surgery that will correct the contour or the position of the ears. An ear surgery, or otoplasty, is a plastic surgery procedure that Dr. Price performs to repair or reconstruct prominent, badly-formed, or damaged ears.

What is Ear Surgery?

Ear surgery is also referred to as ear pinning. We know it as otoplasty. The term ear surgery can describe a variety of techniques that are intended for ear reshaping. Ear surgery is an elective, cosmetic procedure that improves the proportions between the face and its frame.

Who is a good candidate for ear surgery?

Anyone who doesn’t like the way their ears look is a good candidate for these surgeries with Dr. Price. The reasons can be varied. A child’s ears may protrude, and this leads to teasing at school and issues with self-confidence. Adults who wish their parents had scheduled this surgery when they were children can still have it for those same reasons. A torn or seriously stretched earlobe is in obvious need of Dr. Price’s surgical expertise. These often result from a woman catching a large hoop earring on something or from the wearing of large gauges that, when removed, leave stretched skin that cannot tighten back down. Finally, congenital development issues can require surgery to address problems such as lop ear.

What are the benefits of ear surgery?

What’s the value of shielding a young child from teasing and taunting? This surgery can head that off in a child with protruding ears. And the surgery is not difficult. Children have an easy recovery. You may not give your ears a second thought, but a child with protruding or misshapen ears will attract unwanted attention. This surgery allows the child to avoid that.

If you’re an adult but your parents opted not to have this surgery for you, the same benefits are true. Women can stop hiding their ears behind their hair. Men can stop stuffing them under a baseball cap.

Of course, if you’re coming to Dr. Price to repair a torn earlobe or an earlobe that has become permanently stretched due to large gauges, the benefits are obvious. These issues won’t heal or correct themselves without surgery.

Conditions Ear Surgery Can Treat

Some ear surgeries correct protrusion, some techniques decrease the size of the ear or of the earlobe. Ear surgery is often performed to pull protruding ears inward toward the head. Additional conditions that may be addressed with a specific technique include:

  • Lopping, or bending of the top of the ear. The ears may lop inward or outward. Either can be corrected with otoplasty.
  • Cartilage damage caused by injury, such as “cauliflower ear.”
  • Enlarged or split earlobes
  • Small ear size
  • Pointy Ears
  • Underdeveloped ear structure

What Age Is Appropriate For Otoplasty?

A person may undergo otoplasty at nearly any age. This surgery is often recommended for children because the ears are nearly fully-developed by age 5. At this time, however, cartilage is slightly softer and more moldable to the desired shape. Parents appreciate the availability of ear surgery for young children, and doctors often recommend that the ears be corrected before a child starts school. This can significantly decrease the chances of being teased. Correcting ear shape early in life also supports optimal self-esteem during highly developmental years.

While otoplasty is ideal for younger children, teens and adults can also obtain outstanding results from this procedure. Dr. Price has treated patients of all ages. His training and experience achieve optimal outcomes regardless of age.

What Our Patients Have to Say

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Why Is Cosmetic Otoplasty Done?

Ear surgery is often done because the ears protrude or “stick out” further from the head than desired. Typically present at birth, the surgery is performed on children, as well as adults were correcting the ear shape may help the patient to be more comfortable with their appearance. Sometimes, surgery is also performed because of an abnormal shape, even though the ear does not really “stick out”.

What Causes The Protrusion Of The Ear?

senior patient at the doctor's office gets her ears checked

Ears that stand out 2 centimeters or more from the side of the head are described as “protruding.” The prominence of the ears has to do with the antihelical fold and the central part of the ear. The center of the external ear is the concha. This is the bowl-like depression at the opening of the ear canal. The rim of cartilage just outside of the concha is called the antihelix. Just past the antihelix is a fold that ends in a slight curve at the outer edge of the ear. Two things can affect protrusion. One is that the concha is very deep. This causes the back of the ear to push away from the head. The other reason that protrusion may occur is that the antihelical fold does not fully develop.

Protruding ears are not a functional problem but they can significantly degrade a person’s sense of confidence. For this reason, ear pinning otoplasty is a highly valued procedure.

What results can I achieve with otoplasty?

These are satisfying procedures. While a child today may not realize how much their ears protrude, and how this surgery will pre-empt future teasing, they will thank you for calling Dr. Price when they hit middle school.

Otoplasty can bring the ears closer to the head, so they no longer are a noticeable feature of the face. It can correct misshapen ears, whether from congenital conditions or from the high school wrestling team. We don’t notice our ears…until we notice them. This surgery makes the ears unnoticeable.

Is otoplasty a safe procedure?

There are the same risks as with any surgery: bleeding, infection, poor incision healing, and the like. Otherwise, this is a very low-risk procedure. The satisfaction for the child (or adult) not having his or her ears protrude far outweighs any possible risks involved. Obviously the same is true with earlobe repairs.

otoplasty | New Haven CN

How Is Otoplasty Performed?

Otoplasty is performed under general anesthesia in an outpatient surgery center. General anesthesia places the patient into a deep, controlled sleep state. Throughout the procedure, the anesthesiologist monitors important vital signs.

Ear surgery is typically performed through an incision made along the crease behind the ear. Through this incision, the surgeon accesses relevant cartilage to achieve the desired improvements. For protruding ears, improvement is achieved with specific suturing and scoring techniques that bring the ears closer to the side of the head. In some cases, one or more parts of the ear are built up with cartilage. The particular technique that is appropriate for you or your child will be fully explained during your consultation.

Is otoplasty painful?

You may have heard that ear surgery makes for quite a painful recovery. This isn’t the case. It is true that it is tolerated more easily by children, but even adults usually only need any narcotic type of pain medication for the first night after surgery. From there, most patients can transition to anti-inflammatory pain medication.

It is helpful to make sure you remain on your back when sleeping. It can be a painful shock if you roll onto your side and onto your repaired ear. You can make sure this doesn’t happen by strategically placing pillows on your sides.

As with any pain, different patients have different tolerances.

Ear Reconstruction With Dr. Price

Dr. Price performs this procedure on patients of all age ranges. For some children, the procedure is best performed at ages five to seven. In others, the procedure is more appropriate at an older age. Patients well into their sixties have requested the procedure, and many young adults choose to correct ear problems in their twenties. In cases where major reconstruction is needed, the cartilage in the ear is collected and reformed into the normal shape of the ear and is then grafted into place. The ear is reshaped gradually over a number of follow-up procedures until the desired shape is achieved.

Can Torn Earlobes Be Repaired?

Our plastic surgery practice in New Haven also repairs torn earlobes. An earlobe can be torn due to trauma, snagging a piercing, or constant wearing of heavy earrings. This procedure is quick and simple, taking only around 30 minutes to complete under local anesthesia. Patients can return to their regular activities immediately after the procedure.

otoplasty | New Haven CNThe Recovery Process 

Recovering from otoplasty is easier than most people imagine. Many patients feel much like their usual self within a few hours after the anesthesia wears off. The most prominent side effects during recovery are aching or throbbing in the ears. Comfort is managed with prescription or over-the-counter medication.

Immediately after ear surgery, a dressing is applied around the head. This is intended to hold the ears in place and prevent accidental bumping. This dressing also helps manage swelling and it hides any bruising that may result from surgery. Within a few days, much of the swelling that has occurred disappears. Within a week to 10 days, patients are ready to return to school, work, and most normal activities.

A post-operative follow-up takes place approximately one week after otoplasty. If non-dissolvable stitches were placed, they may be removed at this time. The dressing that is removed will be replaced with an athletic-type headband. Patients must wear this headband at all times for 3 weeks. Until 6 weeks post-op, patients need to wear the headband while sleeping.

How long will the results from otoplasty last?

The changes made by Dr. Price with ear surgery are permanent. Our ears are finished growing by the age of four, so anything done to them after that will not be distorted by growth. If he is bringing the ears closer to the head, they will never again project outward. If he repairs a torn earlobe, unless you catch a hoop earring again, the lobe won’t change.

Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Price Today!

To learn more about our Otoplasty procedures to find out if you are a candidate, please call us at (203) 453-6635 to schedule a consultation. Our practice is proud to serve Guilford, CT and the surrounding areas.