Otoplasty – Correction of Ear Deformity
Otoplasty is a procedure which “corrects ear deformities”, usually to “pin back” protruding ears. This procedure is generally performed on children prior to starting school, thus avoiding the teasing and nicknames which are associated with large protruding ears. Otoplasty is also often performed on young adults who “are simply tired of having floppy ears.” By this time the nicknames have been forgotten, but the emotional damage has not been repaired. This procedure is also done to correct asymmetry – one ear which is protruding while the other is normal. This occurs because embryologically the head is formed from two separate sides – no two sides are ever exactly alike. Therefore one ear may be different than the other.
An otoplasty is performed in an outpatient setting under either twilight or general anesthesia with little discomfort involved. An incision is made behind the ear, the ear cartilage is weakened, then molded to form the proper curvatures. The entire ear is then tucked back and held in place by many precisely placed sutures. A head-dressing around the ears is placed at the time of surgery. It is removed 1-3 days after surgery only to be replaced and left in place for one week. After this time the dressing and sutures are removed. Occasionally we have our adult patients use a special elastic band around the ears during the first week rather than the dressing. Scars are hidden in the creases behind the ear.
On rare occasions, an ear may need a slight “re-touch” or adjustment 6-12 months postoperatively, or the scar may enlarge requiring an injection of hydrocortisone to soften and decrease the scar.
Children and adults both have a sense of relief, having what they feel is a great deformity repaired. The emotional value of this procedure cannot be overestimated.