The ears certainly serve an important function. But when it comes to aesthetics, we don’t want the ears to stand out. Ideally, ear size is proportionate to the head, the ears lie almost flat against the head, and the ears are naturally shaped. If just one of these elements is off, it can make the ears more noticeable and even result in embarrassment for the patient and ridicule from others. The surgeons at Jefferson Plastic Surgery in Philadelphia perform ear surgery, or otoplasty, to improve the appearance of the ears.
Ear Surgery Candidates
Unlike most other cosmetic surgeries, ear surgery is not just performed on adults. It is also frequently performed on children (at least five years of age) and teens. Ear surgery may be performed to treat problems with the position, shape, or proportion of the ear, whether these problems are congenital or the result of injury. Good candidates for ear surgery have:
- Ears that stick out
- Large ears (A condition known as macrotia)
- Cauliflower ears
- Pointy ears
- Large earring holes
- Abnormally shaped ears
In addition, ear surgery patients should be non-smokers and in generally good health.
Ear Surgery Techniques
There are several ear surgery techniques, each of which is designed to correct a specific deformity or problem.
- Ear pinning surgery: Ear pinning surgery is indicated for patients whose ears stick out too far from the head. This technique involves the creation of an incision behind the ear where the ear is attached to the head. Surgeons can then remove, reshape, fold, or stitch the ear cartilage to make it lie flat.
- Ear reduction: Ear reduction is performed on patients with large ears. In this approach, the ear cartilage of the upper and middle ear is reduced, along with the inner structures of the ear. Incisions are made in the back of the ears; if incisions are required on the front of the ears, they will be discreetly placed in the ear’s natural folds.
- Earlobe reduction: This technique is recommended for patients with overly large lobes. To reduce the size of the lobes, surgeons create an incision in the back of the earlobe, remove excess skin and tissue, and reshape the lobe.
- Lobe reconstruction: Lobe reconstruction is best suited to patients who want to fix large earring holes or have torn earlobes. During surgery, our surgeons will close the hole, redistribute the earlobe tissue, and shape the earlobe to produce a normal appearance.
- Cartilage reconstruction: Reconstruction and reshaping of the cartilage may be performed on patients that have suffered an ear injury, such as those with cauliflower ears. In this technique, incisions are made in the back of the ear; the surgeon then separates the skin from the cartilage and removes built up scar tissue. Once the scar tissue has been removed, the ears can be reshaped to produce a more pleasing appearance.
Ear Surgery Procedure
Ear surgery may take anywhere from one to four hours depending on the technique and the severity of the deformity. The procedure involves the following steps:
- The hair is pulled back from the face and ears, and a surgical pen marks the incision locations
- The patient is put under local or general anesthesia; the choice of anesthesia will depend on the patient’s age and the ear surgery technique
- Antibacterial solution is applied to the surgical site
- The incisions are made in the ears
- If scar tissue is present, it is removed
- The cartilage is reshaped, removed, and/or sutured or the earlobe is reconstructed
- The ears are checked for symmetry and adjustments are made
- The incisions are closed
- The surgical area is cleaned and medical tape and dressing is applied
Ear Surgery Recovery
For the first couple of days after ear surgery, patients should keep the head elevated at all times. We recommend taking it easy for a few days, and then slowly returning to your normal activities.
After surgery, our Philadelphia ear surgery patients should avoid heavy activity and excessive sun exposure for at least two weeks.
Ear Surgery Side Effects
Ear surgery is associated with some common side effects, including:
- A numb or itching sensation at the incision site
Ear Surgery Risks
It is possible for ear surgery to result in some complications, though these risks are greatly reduced when patients undergo surgery with a qualified surgeon and follow all post-op instructions.
- Allergic reaction to medical products
- Scar tissue
- Under or overcorrection
- Changes in ear sensation
Ear Surgery Results
The results of ear surgery are noticed as soon as the bandages come off. However, it may take three months or more for all residual swelling to go down.
Philadelphia Ear Surgery Consultations
Contact our Philadelphia practice to schedule an ear surgery consultation at our practice.