Large or protruding ears are often a source of teasing in childhood. Even as adults, we may feel self-conscious about our ears. Otoplasty, also referred to as ear surgery or ear pinback, is a plastic surgery procedure which corrects protruding or otherwise prominent ears. Using special suture techniques, the ear cartilage is reshaped to a more natural appearance.
Candidates for otoplasty are in good general health, do not smoke, and have realistic expectations for improvement. This is one of few cosmetic surgeries which is commonly performed on children, and it may be performed as early as age five. In fact, performing the surgery at an early age is often advantageous as the ear cartilage is nearly fully grown yet is still resilient.
Dr. Miller and Dr. Steinbrech perform otoplasty surgery on an outpatient basis at their JCAHO Accredited office-based surgery facility at Gotham Plastic Surgery of New York City. Surgical times average one to two hours. Local anesthesia or general anesthesia may be used for adults, while general anesthesia is usually recommended for children. The incision is placed in the natural crease behind each ear so there is no visible scarring. Working through this incision, the ear cartilage is reshaped and stitched into position.
The recovery after otoplasty takes approximately one to two weeks. A large bandage is applied to the ears after surgery and this remains in place for three days. Once the bandage is removed, children are required to wear a headband-like dressing day and night for two weeks, and then just at night for four more weeks. Some numbness of the ears is common at first, and mild bruising may also occur which typically resolves within two weeks. There is usually little pain or discomfort. Most normal activities can be resumed after two weeks and more physical activities, such as contact sports, can be resumed after six weeks.