Ear Surgery ( Otoplasty )
From Dr. Federico Macaya


Planning for surgery
Types of anesthesia
The surgery
After Surgery
Other ear problems
Complications

Ear surgery, or otoplasty, is usually done to set prominent ears back closer to the head or to reduce the size of large ears.  Ears that appear to stick out or are overly large can be helped by ear surgery.

For the most part, the operation is done on children between the ages of four and 14. Ears are almost fully grown by age four, and the earlier the surgery, the less teasing and ridicule the child will have to endure. Ear surgery on adults is also possible, and there are generally no additional risks associated with ear surgery on an older patient.  

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PLANNING FOR SURGERY

Children who feel uncomfortable about their ears and want the surgery are generally more cooperative during the process and happier with the outcome.
 

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TYPES OF ANESTHESIA

If your child is young, I recommend general anesthesia, so the child will sleep through the operation. For older children or adults, I prefer to use local anesthesia, combined with a sedative, so you or your child will be awake but relaxed.

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THE SURGERY

Ear surgery usually takes about two to three hours, although complicated procedures may take longer. The technique will depend on the problem.

An   incision  is made in the back of the ear to expose the ear cartilage. then sculpt the cartilage and bend it back toward the head. Skin is removed and stitches are used to fold the cartilage back on itself to reshape the ear without removing cartilage.                

In most cases, ear surgery will leave a faint scar in the back of the ear that will fade with time. Even when only one ear appears to protrude, surgery is usually performed on both ears for a better balance.

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AFTER SURGERY

The ears may throb or ache a little for a few days, but this can be relieved by medication.

Next day, the bulky bandages will be replaced by a lighter head dressing similar to a headband. Stitches are usually removed, in about a week.

Any activity in which the ear might be bent should be avoided for a month or so. Most adults can go back to work about five days after surgery. Children can go back to school after seven days or so, if they're careful about playground activity. You may want to ask your child's teacher to keep an eye on the child for a few weeks.

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OTHER EAR PROBLEMS

Besides protruding ears, there are a variety of other ear problems that can be helped with surgery. These include: "lop ear," when the tip seems to fold down and forward; "cupped ear," which is usually a very small ear; and "shell ear," when the curve in the outer rim, as well as the natural folds and creases, are missing. Surgery can also improve large or stretched earlobes, or lobes with large creases and wrinkles.

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COMPLICATIONS

All surgery carries some uncertainty and risk ,complications are infrequent and usually minor.

Nevertheless, as with any operation, there are risks associated with surgery and specific complications associated with this procedure.

A small percentage of patients may develop a blood clot on the ear. It may dissolve naturally or can be drawn out with a needle.

Occasionally, patients develop an infection in the cartilage, which can cause scar tissue to form. Such infections are usually treated with antibiotics, rarely, surgery may be required to drain the infected area.

 



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