Ears with Which to Hear

Otoplasty, What and When

The phrase, “pinning the ears back” takes on a whole new meaning when considered in light of otoplasty, the surgery designed to improve the appearance of the external ear. Correcting ears that stick out too far, or reducing the size “larger than life” ears, along with cupping a too-small ear or straightening out a lop-ear are all effectively addressed by otoplasty. Plastic surgeons can even create an ear where it may have been missing due to a birth defect or trauma.

Serious hearing problems or deafness cannot be addressed by otoplasty. Such problems originate inside the middle and/or inner ear and require a different modality to correct.

Your ears are fully grown by the time you’re four years of age and a lot of otoplasty surgery is done on children between the ages of four and fourteen. Many adults want corrective surgery to change their ears as well. Sometimes the surgery is only needed on one ear, but even so, often the surgery is done on both ears to ensure balance.

The Effects of Deformities

Ear deformities can be the result of any number of things. Congenital defects at birth, trauma, or ear pulling habits as often is the case with teething infants and toddlers. A blow to the ear causing a “cauliflower ear” or a torn earlobe from a piercing are occasions for surgery and a stretched ear lobe can be altered by removing excess skin.

While health is not generally affected by misshapen or too-large ears, self esteem can be dramatically affected. The outer ear does play a role in hearing by helping to conduct sound down into the ear canal and having ears that are shaped properly aids the process. A congenitally misshapen ear may be associated with problems in the ear canal or inner ear – otoplasty only involves the outer ear.

Who Should Have Otoplasty

Candidates for otoplasty, whether young or older, should be in good health and realistic in their expectations. Being well informed by both the surgeon and research as well as paying close attention to how a child, especially, feels about their ears are all part of good due diligence. If a child is unhappy about his ears, then he will endure the surgery much better than a child who isn’t bothered by his ears but has been pushed into surgery by a concerned parent or parents.

Be Prepared

While problems with otoplasty are rare, it is still a complex surgery and it is best to be well advised and informed beforehand. Generally the time needed for the surgery is between two and three hours and, as a rule, is not performed in conjunction with other plastic surgery. This may be because it is most often conducted on children. Otoplasty is done in hospital or at a free standing clinic under a local anesthetic for adults, and it is often performed under a general for children to avoid any unpleasant situations should the child awake during the procedure.

By consulting adequately with the surgeon and doing your research, otoplasty is a manageable plastic surgery.

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