All About Otoplasty

Otoplasty is most often performed to position protruding ears closer to the head — a procedure more commonly known as “ear pinning” — but will also correct an abnormal ear shape or to reduce the size of excessively large ears. A limited procedure may also achieve earlobe repair,  addressing earlobes that are stretched out, elongated, or torn. Otoplasty in New York is a great option for anyone who is unhappy with their ears, has suffered trauma or injury to the ears, or who gets teased about their ears. 

What Can Ear Surgery Address?

  • Abnormal ear cartilage shape (lop ear, Stahl’s ear, etc.)
  • Cauliflower ear (resulting from repeated trauma and multiple hematomas)
  • Large, stretched, or torn earlobes
  • Earlobes with large creases and wrinkles
  • Microtia (abnormally small ears)
  • Accessory ear cartilage (present as small protrusions in front of the ear)

Ear Surgery Details

Cosmetic ear surgery generally takes 1-2 hours and is performed on an outpatient basis. The type of anesthesia used will depend on the age of the patient, as ear surgery is often performed on young children. Typically, general anesthesia is recommended for younger patients, and local anesthesia with sedation suffices for older children and adults. Otoplasty begins with a small incision being made behind the ear in the natural crease where the ear meets the head. The cartilage is then shaped and sutured to achieve the desired appearance.

In some types of otoplasty, skin is removed, but the cartilage is left intact and merely folded back and sutured to create a less protruding ear.

After sculpting the cartilage to the desired shape, sutures and a bandage are used to hold the ears in position until healing is complete. In cases of asymmetry in which one ear may be more malformed than the other or where only one is significantly misshapen, both ears may still be operated on to achieve better symmetry.

Portions of or complete new ears can be surgically constructed for patients who are missing them due to causes that include birth defects, severe injuries, and skin cancers.

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Recovery After Ear Surgery

Although the ears may ache or throb for a few days, a patient usually feels close to normal within hours of the surgery’s completion. Medication is prescribed to help alleviate any discomfort. 

A few days after otoplasty, the bandages around the head are replaced with a surgical dressing that is worn for about a week, at which point the stitches may need to be removed. Otoplasty patients should avoid sleeping on their sides for the first two weeks after surgery. At the 2 week mark, most patients are able to return to their normal routines. After the ears have healed completely, they usually have faint scars hidden on their posterior surfaces. The scars typically fade with time and, because of their strategic placement, are virtually invisible.

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Risks and Complications

Complications of otoplasty are rare and usually minor. A small percentage of otoplasty patients develop a blood clot on the ear or an infection in the suture line. These issues may resolve on their own or can be treated medically with limited intervention or antibiotics. Other possible complications include a change in skin sensation at the surgical site. There is also a possibility that a patient will not be satisfied with the appearance of the ears after surgery. Once the final result is achieved, it’s also possible that the ears may not match exactly, as ears are not entirely symmetrical naturally.

Candidates for Otoplasty

Individuals of any age who feel self-conscious about their ears may be good candidates for otoplasty, although it is typically performed on children between 5-15 years old. Ears are almost fully developed by the age of 5, so surgery in early childhood can help create self-confidence when a child begins going to school and will also help them to avoid being teased. It’s important for those considering otoplasty to be in good health and have realistic expectations for the procedure. 

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Ear Surgery in New York with Dr. Hutchinson

Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Olivia Hutchinson has been delivering remarkable results to cosmetic patients from NYC and beyond for over two decades. All operations are performed either in our fully accredited, office based AAAASF operating room or in a hospital setting. It is Dr. Hutchinson’s goal to exceed her patients’ expectations, work with extreme attention to detail, and provide the highest level of care for each individual patient. If you’re interested in learning more about ear surgery in New York for you or your child, please contact us online or call us at (212) 452-1400 to schedule a consultation

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