Otoplasty — also known as cosmetic ear surgery — is a procedure to change the shape, position or size of the ears.
You might choose to have otoplasty if you're bothered by how far your ears stick out from your head. You might also consider otoplasty if your ear or ears are misshapen due to an injury or birth defect.
Otoplasty can be done at any age ideally 3-6 years, but can be do — through adulthood
However, like every surgical procedure, cosmetic ear surgery involves risks. The chances of experiencing complications during this treatment, or as a result of it, are usually minimal. However, it is important to have an understanding of the problems that occur
Infection of the skin and cartilage is one of the most common otoplasty complications. It also poses the greatest threat to the success of the procedure. Should an infection develop after cosmetic ear surgery, it is generally relieved with an antibiotic medication. If the infection results in the formation of scar tissue, a very rare complication, then it may be necessary to address the area surgically.
Scarring. While scars are permanent, they'll likely be hidden behind your ears or within your ears' inner creases.
The formation of a blood clot in the ear is another possible risk of cosmetic ear surgery. A very infrequent complication, blood clots can be removed with a needle or may simply dissolve naturally. If the patient experiences prolonged swelling and bleeding, then the surgeon should be contacted immediately to ensure that the ear is healing properly.
Otoplasty overcorrection can refer to:
• Placing the ears too close to the head
• Contour distortions
• Inadequate correction
• Asymmetric correction
Loosening of Sutures
A risk commonly faced by children that have undergone otoplasty is the loosening of sutures. Often a result of boisterous activity or inattention to bandaging, loosened or popped sutures may cause the ear to return to its original shape or position. Carefully following the surgeon's post-operational instructions can prevent this from occurring. For adults and children alike, this usually means avoiding strenuous or vigorous physical activity should be avoided for at least a week following surgery. Adults are usually advised to stay home from work for a day or two after surgery. Young children are generally told to stay home from school for about a week. A full recovery from cosmetic ear surgery usually takes about six weeks.
Many ear surgery patients wonder whether there is a risk of hearing loss associated with otoplasty. Complications of this kind are extremely rare, and are almost never seen. Distortion of the auditory canal, through major changes of the concha, can cause alterations in hearing.
Unwanted Gradual Reversal of Treatment
In most cases of cosmetic ear surgery, the results are satisfying and permanent. But because the ears consist mainly of cartilage, a tissue with great natural elasticity, patients who have had their ears surgically pinned closer to their head may observe a slight amount of "springing back" taking place in the years following the procedure. In many cases, facial plastic surgeons take measures to reduce this effect during the initial procedure through slight overcorrection, leaving a margin for the ears to shift slightly while maintaining a long-term natural shape. In some cases, patients may wish to undergo otoplasty revision surgery many years after their initial surgery in order to keep the look they desire
• Changes in skin sensation.
The Weeks Prior to Surgery
In the weeks prior to ear surgery, parents or guardians with children undergoing otoplasty should have discussions regarding the child's feelings. They should have genuine communication with their child regarding all of the details of the procedure and recovery, and reasonable expectations for the results.
For all prospective patients, aspirin use should be discontinued at least two weeks prior to surgery. Cessation of smoking and tobacco use is also strongly urged by physicians. Preparations for missing work or school, as well as a designated person to take care of the patient immediately following the surgery, should also begin to take shape during this time.
The Day before Surgery
Patients receiving general anesthesia for an otoplasty procedure will not be allowed to eat or drink after midnight the night before, or the morning of, the surgery. The last meal the night prior to surgery should be a very light one. Preparations should be finalized for an extended recovery period (e.g., making sure work or school has been notified) and arrangements made for someone to drive the patient home. The patient should be under another person's care for at least the first night unless the physician requires an overnight hospital stay.
The Day of Surgery
Before coming into the surgical facility, otoplasty patients should plan to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Restrictive collars or shirts that patients have to pull over their heads should not be worn. It is important, especially for children, that nothing bends or pulls at the ears after the operation. Adult patients are also strongly urged to shower and shampoo their hair thoroughly the morning of surgery. Women should braid or pin their hair, and men should have a haircut or trim at some point before the procedure.
• Before the surgery begins, the surgeon will administer either general anesthesia (usually in cases of ear surgery for children) or local anesthetic with a sedative for adult patients. The otoplasty surgery itself should take two hours or less, depending on the extent of the procedure. Sometimes children stay overnight in the hospital, and adults may also require an overnight hospital stay if their procedure is more complex than a traditional otoplasty. However, most adults should plan to have someone with them to drive them home and take care of them the night following the surgery.
Ear (Otoplasty) Surgery Post-Operative Instructions
• Have someone drive you home after surgery and help you at home for 1-2 days.
• Get plenty of rest.
• Follow balanced diet.
• Decreased activity may promote constipation, so you may want to add more raw fruit to your diet, and be sure to increase fluid intake.
• Take pain medication as prescribed. Do not take aspirin or any products containing aspirin unless approved by your surgeon.
• Do not drink alcohol when taking pain medications.
• Even when not taking pain medications, no alcohol for 3 weeks as it causes fluid retention.
• If you are taking vitamins with iron, resume these as tolerated.
• Do not smoke, as smoking delays healing and increases the risk of complications.
• Usually, you will be up and around a few hours after surgery.
• Start walking as soon as possible, as this helps to reduce swelling and lowers the chance of blood clots.
• Do not drive until you are no longer taking any pain medications (narcotics).
• Children can go back to school after 7 days, if they are careful about playground activity.
• Adults can go back to work approximately 5 days after surgery, depending upon the occupation.
• You may resume full social activities in 5-10 days.
• Avoid any activity in which the ear might be bent for approximately a month.
• You may resume strenuous activity and contact sports in 1-2 months.
• Avoid exposing scars to sun for at least 12 months.
• Always use a strong sunblock, if sun exposure is unavoidable (SPF 30 or greater).
• Keep steri-strips on.
• Keep incisions clean and inspect daily for signs of infection.
• Wear turban-style dressings and bandages for 3-4 days. After that, wear a clean headband at night for 3-6 weeks.
• You may shampoo your hair in 5 days, or as advised by your doctor.
What To Expect
• Temporary throbbing, aching, swelling, redness and numbness.
• Large pressure dressings and bandages are applied around the ears and head, turban style.
• Some swelling and bruising may last 10-14 days.
• Some numbness may exist around the operative areas.
• Tenderness could last up to 3 months.
• Usually, there will be a faint scar in the back of the ear that will eventually fade.
• Do not expect both ears to match perfectly, as perfect symmetry is unlikely and unnatural in ears.
• All sutures are removed, or will dissolve, in 1-2 weeks.
When To Call
• If you have increased swelling or bruising.
• If swelling and redness persist after a few days.
• If you have increased redness along the incision.
• If you have severe or increased pain not relieved by medication.
• If you have any side effects to medications; such as, rash, nausea, headache, vomiting.
• If you have an oral temperature over 100.4 degrees.
• If you have any yellowish or greenish drainage from the incisions or notice a foul odor.
• If you have bleeding from the incisions that is difficult to control with light pressure.
• If you have loss of feeling or motion.
• If a blood clot forms on the ear.
For Medical Questions, Please Call:
• 021 5545533, Monday - Thursday, 8:30 a.m. – 16:30, Friday 8:30-13:00
• After hours and on weekends, call Casualty at Blaauwberg Hospital 021 5549000