Ear surgery, or otoplasty, is usually performed to set back prominent ears. For the most part, the operation is undertaken for children although adults can also be treated. The operation is usually undertaken as a day case procedure in hospital. Young children usually need to have a general anaesthetic, whereas older children and adults often choose to have an otoplasty under local anaesthesia.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
When ear surgery is performed, 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 occasionally needs to be removed. 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.
Following surgery, a supportive head bandage is applied. This stays in place for one week and is removed at your first postoperative outpatient visit. Dissolvable sutures are usually used and so do not need to be removed. A headband must be worn at night for six weeks. 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 are careful about playground activity. You may want to ask your child’s teacher to keep an eye on the child for a few weeks.
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.