Otoplasty is a surgical technique to correct prominent and abnormally shaped ears. This is a very common defect that occurs in up to 5 % of the population. There are many types of subtle differences between each abnormality, and therefore different techniques to suit each problem are used. I operate on both adults and children with this problem. Children are best operated on around the time they start school, as the ear is usually fully grown by the age of four.
Operating early also avoids a lot of teasing and self-confidence issues that can develop. Also at this age the child is aware of the problem and can understand and be involved in the care required after surgery. If you or your child are not concerned or bothered by the problem, then clearly no surgery is necessary or can be considered later.
I aim to create a natural, non-distracting ear. Not all ears are symmetrical and there may be slight differences between the two after surgery. The usual angle between the head and the ear is between 15 and 30 degrees. Angles bigger than this make the ear more prominent and there can be specific folds missing in the cartilage of the ear that I may need to recreate or accentuate to make the ear look more normal.
Surgery often involves an excision of skin behind the ear, removal of subcutaneous tissue and permanent sutures to set the ear back. Other sutures and scoring of the cartilage in specific areas can create the normal folds of the ear if they are not present. Surgery is performed under general or local anaesthesia and can take between 2-3 hours depending on the complexity of the case. A head bandage is often worn for 2-3 days then changed to a lighter ear wrap or head band. Digital photographs are taken before and after surgery to document the changes I make.
Complications are rare, but examples such as haematoma (blood clot) and infection of the cartilage can occur. Subtle imperfections can possibly develop years later as the ear ages, and can be remedied by minor surgery if required.