As we approach the summer months, it might be important to consider corrective surgery for prominent ear(s) or those with abnormal shape or size among the pediatric population.
Otoplasty is the medical term used to describe cosmetic ear surgery, in which issues with the auricle, or outer ear, are corrected.
There are several different types of otoplasty which commonly include ear pinning for prominent ears (prominauris), ear reduction for ears that are larger than normal (macrotia), and ear augmentation for ears that are smaller than normal (microtia).
Typically, otoplasty is delayed in children until the age of 5 to allow for maturation of the ear in both size and growth pattern. Adults seeking correction ear surgery typically need to be in good health and be non-smokers, as smoking can delay surgical healing.
The surgery itself depends on the type of ear deformity that exists. Typically, ears that protrude more than ¾ inch or 2cm are considered prominent.
In some patients with wide-set ears, the surgery can be as simple as placing sutures in the tissue behind the ear with a few sutures to recreate the natural ear folds, called crura. For most cases, the surgery can be performed through a small incision hidden behind the ear.
Post-operative care is limited to a protective elastic head dressing for five to seven days, which is then continued for four to six weeks at night.
Pain is often limited to discomfort that is treated with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen. For additional comfort, a long-acting local anesthetic can be injected as a ring-block around the ear to markedly reduce discomfort for 48 to 72 hours after surgery.
Side effects are typically limited to mild bruising, swelling, redness and tingling that resolves within one or two weeks.
Otoplasty can be an extremely rewarding procedure for patients of all ages, particularly in children, and can be timed during long holidays or spring and summer breaks without disrupting school or social activities.
Mathew T. Epps, MD, MS, DABS is a plastic surgeon, triple- fellowship trained in facial, eyelid, and breast surgery. matheweppsmd.com or email@example.com