Many people are unhappy with the size, shape, or position of their ears. They wear their hair down, wear hats, or otherwise try to hide misshapen or protruding ears. However, there are other solutions. There is a simple procedure that can pin ears back or change other aspects of the ears. This procedure is called otoplasty and in the hands of an experienced facial plastic surgeon such as Dr. Joseph Russell, surgery on the ears can be a simple procedure that produces attractive, natural-appearing results.
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What is an Otoplasty
Facial plastic surgery on the ears aims to correct the external appearance of the ears so they are attractive, positioned correctly, and lay flat. There are many reasons for people to get this kind of surgery. Some people are born with protruding ears, asymmetrical ears, or ears that are an unattractive shape. Other people find that as they grow, their ears are no longer harmonious with their head shape. Last, ears can be damaged by accidents and trauma, leaving them less attractive.
Every ear surgery is as unique as the person having it. It is important to choose a board-certified facial plastic surgeon who is trained and experienced to create an ear shape and position that will blend with your natural facial features and head shape. These procedures require not just reshaping and resizing of the ear but balancing the ears with your other features.
Otoplasty Before and After Photos
Otoplasty Before and After Patient 1:
This 11-year old patient had prominent ears, with the left ear protruding asymmetrically more than the right ear. He underwent otoplasty to restore symmetry to his ears and restore balance to his face.
Why Would I Need an Otoplasty?
The ears play a big part in facial harmony and symmetry. With an ear pinning surgery, expert surgeon Dr. Joseph Russell can bring focus away from your ears and to your face, to produce a more symmetrical and harmonious look.
What Features Can Be Improved?
Commonly, patients come in with the complaint of their ears poking out too much from the side of the head. Other common problems that are addressed with an otoplasty include:
How is this Procedure Performed
During ear surgery, Dr. Russell will reshape the cartilage that forms the shape of the ear. In addition, cartilage and other tissue can be removed if necessary. Once the ears have been reshaped, they are positioned so they are in the most attractive placement and position. In most cases, the incisions for this surgery are made on the backside of the ear or hidden in folds of the ear. This prevents visible scarring.
Ear procedures are usually performed under anesthesia at a hospital or surgery center. A headwrap will be placed at the end of surgery and worn for several days to a week to allow the ears to heal in their new position. Depending on the degree of surgery required, the ears will usually be swollen at first but will have a normal appearance at around 2 weeks after the surgery.
Microtia is Latin for “little ear”. It is a birth defect that causes little to no amount of the pinna (visible part of the ear) to show and is measured in grades of severity. The first is called Grade 1 which is when the ear is smaller than normal. Grade 2 is when some normal features are missing. And finally, Grade 3 is when the pinna is just a small piece of cartilage and skin (the ear canal and drum are usually not there). It occurs in about every 1 out of 6,000 to 12,000 people.
Macrotia is Latin for “big ear”. Unlike microtia, parts of the pinna are not usually missing. It is a rare deformity and is simply an ear that is larger than normal.
An otopexy is the pinning of the ear. It is done to flatten ears that stick out too much for the patient’s liking.
An ear reduction is done to reduce the size of the pinna if the ear is too big.
A reduction of the earlobe is performed to reduce the size of large, floopy earlobes.
Earlobe repoair is a surgical technique aimed at restoring, reshaping, or rejuvenating the lower section of the ear.
Who is a Good Candidate for Surgery on the Ears?
Most facial plastic surgeries are not performed until the patient is in their late teens or even adulthood. Ear pinning surgery is the exception. Because ears are primarily constructed out of cartilage, they can be shaped and re-positioned as early as age 5 to 6. This is the ideal time for surgery for children with ear deformities, because the cartilage is 90% of its adult size at this time, and this is also the time when children may begin to be teased by other children as they begin attending school. However, otoplasty can just as easily be performed in older children, teens, and adults.
Recovering from Otoplasty
Recovering from an otoplasty usually takes between 1-2 weeks. By day 7, most patients feel fine enough to return to school or work. However, any strenuous tasks, such as working out and exercising, should be restricted until 2 weeks after surgery.
For 6 weeks following surgery, you should wear a headband at night over the ears to ensure they remain in the proper position. Bruising and swelling on or around the ear are common, and usually resolves by 2 weeks. Low grade aching, tenderness, and numbness following the procedure can also occur, and will return to normal over the next few weeks on its own.
Risks of an Ear Pinning Procedure
The otoplasty surgery is a very safe and effective surgery, but as with any surgery, there is potential for complications to arise. Potential risks from the procedure can include infection, bleeding, scarring, and asymmetry.
Frequently Asked Otoplasty Questions
What is the optimal age to receive an otoplasty?
An ear pinning surgery can be done on fully grown adults and children as young as 5 years old. Many parents chose otoplasty for their child at around 5 or 6 years of age, which is when the ears are around 90% developed.
Are their many risks from the procedure?
Otoplasties are generally very safe, with a minute chance of problems to occur. However, risks include infection, bleeding, scarring, and asymmetry.
When will I be able to return back to normal activities such as work, school, or working out, after my otoplasty?
Most patients return to work/school 5-7 days after their surgery. It is recommended to resume physical activities suck as working out and sports after 10 to 14 days of recovery.
What type of anesthesia will I be placed under?
Normally, you will be placed under local anesthesia and IV sedation. However, in some cases, general anesthesia might be required.
Will there be visible scarring, after my ear pinning surgery?
Every surgery involving incisions, as otoplasty does, carries a chance of scarring. However, Dr. Russell is a fellowship trained, board certified, facial plastic surgeon, whose meticulous attention to detail keeps visible scarring to a minimum. He uses the natural folds and creases of the skin to cover the incisions, so his work looks natural and doesn’t give the ‘operated-on look’.
If you are interested in an ear pinning surgery for your child or yourself, a consultation is the first step. It is important to choose a facial plastic surgeon who has the right experience and training. Dr. Joseph Russell grew up in the Charleston area and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. He attended a prestigious facial plastic surgery fellowship in New York City and since been providing a variety of facial plastics procedures to satisfied patients in the Charleston area. Learn more to see if this procedure can give your child or you a natural, confident appearance. Call (843) 576-3302 today to schedule a consultation.