Otoplasty is a common procedure to correct protruding ears in both children and adults. During development, both ears develop separately, allowing for differences or asymmetry between the two ears, and malformation or protrusion of one or both ears. Some ears stick out too much from the head, some have floppy cartilage, and some lack the usual folds in the cartilage which are necessary to maintain the normal shape of an ear. These can all result in self-confidence issues, leading to a request for surgical correction.
The surgeon will examine both ears carefully for symmetry, and any cartilage irregularities, missing cartilage folds, or excess cartilage. We will then discuss with you the best approach for reshaping the ear. Each patient has specific needs that should be addressed through an individualized surgical plan.
For children, we usually recommend the procedure to be performed around age 5. At this time, the ears have almost grown to adult size, and are fully developed. The cartilage is still more pliable than an adult, though, facilitating accurate sculpting. In addition, surgery at a young age allows us to correct the appearance of the ears before the child goes to school where he/she may be self-conscious. All pediatric patients will require a general anesthesia in an outpatient surgery center. Some adults may be able to undergo the procedure in the office with only a local anesthetic.
At the end of the surgery, you or your child will have a tight head wrap on in order to protect the newly sculpted ears. A version of this will be worn for at least the first week. During the second week, you can return to school/work and wear a protective headband only at night to make sure that the ears aren’t inadvertently traumatized during sleep.