Otoplasty

Introduction
Many children and adults suffer embarrassment from prominent ears. As ear growth achieves almost adult size by early school age the prominent ear deformity appears more obvious. In children mild cases may be concealed by longer hair until the child has fully developed and a decision regarding surgery can been taken. If, however, the deformity is obvious, it may be kinder to carry out corrective surgery at an earlier age. The ears attain 80% of their final size by the age of 5 or 6 and it is therefore safe to carry out the correction from that age onwards. This is equally a common operation requested by adults who did not have surgery during childhood. The surgery is as straight forward for adults as it is in children.

How do I prepare for surgery?
Where will my surgery be performed?
What type of anaesthetic will be used?
What does the operation involve?
What happens after the operation?
What are the risks?
Summary

How do I prepare for surgery?
It is important to avoid taking any Aspirin or products containing Aspirin for 2 weeks either side of the operation since Aspirin promotes bleeding and has an adverse effect on bruising. The same is true for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Brufen and Neurofen). If you are a smoker it is helpful to stop for a week or two before surgery and for a week afterwards so as not to restrict the circulation to the skin.

Where will my surgery be performed?
The surgery is performed at the King Edward VII Hospital in central London where Mr Grover works as a Consultant in Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery. You will be admitted on the day of surgery, and may need to stay overnight. You will need a friend or relative to accompany you home when you leave hospital after surgery.

What type of anaesthetic will be used?
Prominent ear correction is usually performed under a general anaesthetic, so you'll sleep through the entire operation.

What does the operation involve?
The operation is performed through an incision on the back of the ear so no scars are visible and the surgery is designed to produce an entirely normal ear. The ridge within the cartilage responsible for folding the ear back is recreated and some internal sutures applied to maintain this new position. This procedure will normally require a general anaesthetic, although it may be performed under local anaesthetic with sedation in some adults. After the surgery a circular bandage is applied around the upper head, which is worn for 7 to 10 days to allow the cartilage to heal in the corrected position.

What happens after the operation?
The bandages are normally removed between 7 to 10 days after surgery. The ears heal quickly and the appearance is very natural even after two weeks. As with any operation the ear will be tender if knocked, so you should avoid contact sports e.g. football, rugby for six weeks. A protective bandage or sweatband should be applied around the ears at night while sleeping for six weeks to minimise accidental damage to the ear cartilage. By three months the slight tenderness and redness of the ears has usually resolved completely.

What are the risks?

 

    Complications after prominent ear correction are rare and I regard otoplasty as an operation with a high level of patient satisfaction. However, as with any operation, there are risks associated with surgery and those specific complications associated with this procedure are as follows:
  • Infection is rare after otoplasty but as with any form of surgery can occasionally occur. Its risk is reduced by the routine use of antibiotics during and after surgery
  • Excessive internal bruising (haematoma) occasionally occurs and may require removing some stitches to wash out the bruising from beneath the skin. This has no effect on the long term outcome of surgery.
  • Independent of the technique used by the surgeon the "memory" of the cartilage may cause the prominence to recur in a few patients (5-7%). If this happens the procedure can safely be performed again.
  • The incision, which is made on the back of the ear, usually heals well and is concealed. In some patients the scar may be slightly red and raised. If this occurs treatment to reduce this can be applied.
Summary
Procedure time 60-90 minutes
General / Local anaesthetic General (children)
No. nights in hospital Daycase / 1 night
Time off work 1 week
Sensitivity period 1-2 weeks
Back to normality / sports 4-6 weeks

 

The correction of prominent ear correction is one of the most common operations in cosmetic surgery. The results are usually excellent and the correction is permanent. This gives the ears a natural appearance and provides the individual with increased confidence.

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