Do you suffer from prominent ears that always seem to stick out? These protruding or “flap-ears” often result from structural issues in the ears that become more noticeable as one grows, particularly in the formative years. The challenge lies not only in their appearance but also in the potential for embarrassment, diminished self-esteem, and psychological distress, impacting both adults and children. Otoplasty presents a solution for reshaping and enhancing the aesthetics of your ears, providing a more pleasing look. Explore this article to gain insights into otoplasty and make an informed decision.
Reasons For Ear Deformities
Around 5% of the country’s general population have ear deformities, usually occurring for various reasons. Some of them are:
- Overdevelopment: The outer ear has an overgrowth due to several cartilages.
- Underdevelopment: The outer edge of the cartilage, which is found at the top of the ear, does not fold towards the head well due to improper development.
- Angle: The outer ear sticks out from the side of the head at an angle of more than 35 degrees.
- Injury: Sometimes, an injury can also make an ear protrude.
- Heredity: Almost 30% of newborns have congenital ear deformities, which appear unusual in the first three months. Most of these are self-correcting and get fixed in a week post-birth. Otherwise, a non-surgical correction or an otoplasty is required.
What Is Otoplasty?
‘Otoplasty,’ alternatively known as ‘Pinnaplasty’ or ‘Ear Pinning,’ is a reconstructive cosmetic surgery designed to address deformities in the outer ear, also known as the ‘pinna,’ and enhance its overall appearance. This less complex surgical procedure can be performed on one ear or both, based on individual needs. Whether addressing congenital deformities or correcting accidental injuries, otoplasty focuses on reshaping or resizing the external parts of the ears to rectify even minor concerns, ultimately boosting the individual’s confidence. Notably, the procedure does not impact one’s auditory function as the pinna plays no significant role in hearing. (1) (2)
Types Of Otoplasty
Being a reconstructive surgery, otoplasty can be of 3 different types to suit the needs and desires of the patient. These are:
- Ear Augmentation: Enhancement of the underdeveloped or non-existent pinna (microtia)
- Ear Reduction: Reduction of the overdeveloped pinna (macrotia)
- Otopexy: Pinning back the protruding ears to make them look flatter
What Issues Does It Address?
Otoplasty involves the surgical repairing of several issues related to ear cartilage, which include: (3)
- Overly large ears
- Protruding or sticking-out ears (large cartilage bowls)
- Floppy ears (weak cartilage in upper ear lobes)
- Folded upper helical rim
Ideal Candidates For Otoplasty
While adults can undergo otoplasty, the procedure can also be performed on kids as young as two. However, it is essential to delay the surgery until age six so that the ears can be more fully developed. One also needs to have good physical health to get the shape and appearance of their ears corrected through the surgery.
How Is Otoplasty Performed?
The otoplasty process is more straightforward and safer than many other cosmetic surgeries. Following are the steps involved in it: (4)
- In kids, the procedure is performed under general anesthesia, while in youth as well as adults, IV sedation supplemented with local anesthesia is used.
- The outer ear area on which the surgeon will work is outlined precisely. This helps carry out the surgical procedure efficiently.
- An incision is made on the cartilage behind the ear, where the organ joins the head and creates a natural fold. It ensures that only a thin scar will be left, barely noticeable.
- The cartilage and skin in the traced area are scored and reshaped to reset the angle of the ear and bring it in better proportion with the head. For this, a hollow needle is inserted into the backside of the auricle, and the cartilage is repositioned or remolded. Sometimes, it is trimmed and pinned back as per the requirements.
- Once everything is done, the incision is closed with permanent and dissolvable sutures to hold the ear properly until it heals and preserves its natural appearance.
Duration Of Otoplasty
Typically, an otoplasty surgery takes approximately 1-2 hours, depending on the changes needed. Before you are discharged, the head is wrapped with a fluffy bandage so that the ear is protected and the cartilage is secured in its new position.
It would be best if you exercised the following caution to protect your ears from all kinds of trauma or injury during the recovery period:
- Make sure that your head is elevated even during sleep.
- Keep your head as cool as possible (avoid anything that could heat it).
- Keep the bandage intact, and skip washing your hair for at least one week.
- Wear a tennis headband f(loose yet supportive) for two more weeks after removing the bandage.
- Resume your regular activities, including workouts, after 5-6 weeks.
- Stay away from swimming for at least eight weeks.
- No physical contact sports should be practiced for up to 3 months.
Side Effects And Risks
Common side effects of the surgery include mild bruising, soreness, numbness, stiffness, throbbing, aching, and so on. However, these will resolve completely anywhere between a week and a month. There are also some minor risks and potential complications associated with otoplasty. These are prolonged numbness, swelling, internal bruising (hematoma), bleeding, inflammation, infections, necrosis, superficial discomfort, overcorrection, partial correction, and asymmetry. Your surgeon will prescribe you painkillers, antibiotics, and other necessary medications based on the issues you are experiencing so that everything subsides without causing any harmful effects on your ear,
Cost Of Otoplasty
The cost of otoplasty covers the surgeon’s fee, operating room fee, anesthesiologist fee, and all follow-up visits. Generally, it ranges from $3,000 to $6,000 based on the patient’s requirements.
Also Read – Know What, Why, And How About Rhinoplasty
Otoplasty, or Ear Pinning, offers a reconstructive solution for protruding ears, addressing congenital deformities or injuries. Suitable for adults and children (recommended after age six), this less complex surgical procedure reshapes and enhances outer ear appearance. Three types of otoplasty cater to diverse concerns. Recovery guidelines and potential risks accompany the surgery, with costs ranging from $3,000 to $6,000.