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Otoplasty or ear pinning is a procedure to correct prominent ears. This is normally an inherited condition and the majority of procedures are performed on children between the ages of 4 and 14 but some adults also undergo the procedure.
If you are considering this procedure for you or one of your children read this page carefully as it will help you understand what the operation consists of and what results you can expect. However, any specific questions should be answered by your plastic surgeon.
Planning the surgery
In general, it´s rcommended that you wait for your child to express his or her desire to undergo this procedure and not to put any pressure on them. Those children or adolescents who wish to change this aspect of themselves are generally very cooperative and happy with the results.
At the initial appointment, your plastic surgeon wii evaluate the medical situation of you or your child and will explain the most efficient technique and the steps to follow.
The operation is done in a clinic as an outpatient.
If your child is young, the surgeon will recommend a general anaesthetic. In young patients or adults the procedure is usually done with local anaesthetic with or without sedation. If sedation is given, the patient is aware but relaxed.
Normally the procedure will last between 1.5 and 2 hours although in more complicated cases it may last longer. The most common technique is done by making an incision behind the ear to expose the cartilage which is the n remodelled or reduced depending on the case. Usually some stitches are put in the cartilage to achieve the desired angle of the ear.
In cases where there is an exaggerated amount of cartilage on the auricular shell this will be removed through the same incision. On some occasions it may be necessary to make some small incisions in the front part of the ear cartilage, it all depends on the size of the problem and the recommendations of your plastic surgeon.
Normally a small piece of skin is removed from behind the ear and with time the scar will disappear. If only one ear is deformed the procedure can be done on both ears to ensure symmetry between the ears.
Any pain is easily controlled with painkillers and anti inflammatories. The ear will be bandaged immediately after the procedure using a protective elastic bandage. After 2 or 3 days this will be changed for an elastic tape.
It is recommended that the head is elevated when resting.
No activities which may involve impact of the ear may be done for at least a week. Adults can return to work 3 days after the procedure and children can return to school after 7 days but any impact must be avoided. The stitches will dissolve or be removed after 1 or 2 weeks.
The elastic tape must be worn during the day for 10 days and at night for 45 days.
All surgical procedures carry certain risks. When the otoplasty is done by a qualified plastic surgeon with experience, complications are very rare and normally not serious.
In a small pecentage of patients, bruises can form which will heal sponaneously or can be drained.
Any infection of the cartilage is treated with antibioptics or very rarely with further surgery.
A lack of symmetry between the ears is possible but this is the same with people who don´t undergo any procedure.
In some cases the ears may become less pinned over time, above all in younger patients who are still growing. This is easily fixed by putting in new stitches, usually with local anaesthetic. Normally any scars are hidden behind the ears or in the natural crease in front of the ear but some patients may need alternative treatment for scarring. Normally sensitivity returns after the treatment with variations in the time it takes.
Apart from prominent ears there are other problems with ears such as the the tip being bent forward or an ear without the exterior curve or the natural creases. In these cases your surgeon will evaluate each case inividually and study possible solutions.
In some cases surgery can leave scars which are worse than the original problem.
Surgery can also correct mishapen lobes and reconstruct ears in those cases where a patient is born without or has lost an ear due to a trauma or accident.
Some patients, whether young or old, may initially be frightened by the result of ear surgery, but keep in mind that the goal is to improve, not perfection. Do not wait for two perfect and absolutely symmetrical ears, but look for a natural way possible.
If you have discussed the procedure and expectations about the surgery with your surgeon before the procedure, there will be many chances that you will find it very complicated with the result of the surgery.
Candidates: Patients from 5 years of age who have prominent ears that stick out from the head.
Scars: Behind the ears and sometimes one in the conch of the ear (at the bottom of the ear basin).
Consequences: Possible small scar tissue nodes behind the ears corresponding with internal stitching.
OTOPLASTY IS NOT A PROCEDURE USED TO REDUCE EAR SIZE
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