William Callaghan. MD (otoplasty Surgery)
Otoplasty is a surgical procedure aimed at improving the appearance of the ear. It is a safe and effective procedure and can improve one's self image. Generally , surgery on the auricle (external ear) is often performed to repair cosmetic or defects resulting from injury. The most common elective procedure is otoplasty, which is done to correct prominent ("dumbo") ears in children. The goal of this type of surgery is to improve the cosmetic appearance of the ears. Frequently, psychological trauma is associated with such features.
Who is a candidate?
Most patients are young and have “prominent” ears. Because children are especially vulnerable to ridicule it is recommended to have the surgery performed prior to the start of school. Many adults also have this problem, which was never addressed during childhood.
Types of Procedures
There are many types of operations described for otoplasty. Of course, the type of procedure depends on the type of deformity. Some can be addressed soon after birth with a simple headband, while others require an operation to repair.
There is a higher chance of failure in otoplasty surgery and that is most likely due to the type of tissue involved (cartilage), which makes healing more challenging.
Please refer to the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons website (plasticsurgery.org) for links to otoplasty.
- 1. Infection of the skin or of the cartilage (chondritis) of the ear.
- 2. Bleeding or hematoma formation.
- 3. An unfavorable result may occur at any time following surgery, and includes inadequate correction, recurrence, contour distortions, or asymmetric correction, all of which may require secondary surgery.
- 4. Permanent or temporary numbness of the skin of the ear or face.
- 5. Scar or keloid formation, which is an overgrowth of scar tissue.
- 6. Prolonged pain, impaired healing, and the need for hospitalization.
- 7. Narrowing of the external ear canal.
- 8. Suture extrusion. When permanent sutures are used to maintain shape, they may become evident through the skin and may eventually require removal.
Once the operation is complete, the surgeon will place a fluffy dressing. This is to avoid excess pressure on the ear and the surgical site. Also, the carefully placed dressing will help in avoiding post-operative hematoma, which can be devastating in otoplasty surgery. Many surgeons place sutures to hold skin flaps in place to prevent hematomas.
Swelling is common, as is in all surgical procedures. In otoplasty, the swelling is the cause of much of the post-operative pain. So its reduction is critical in the post-operative care.
Overall, otoplasty is a highly successful, and rewarding procedure which result in happy patients.