Cosmetic procedures are incredible confidence-boosters that make a difference in our clients’ lives every day. In this regard, one of the unsung heroes of the plastic surgery world is otoplasty — cosmetic surgery that pins back or reshapes the ears. While the results of otoplasty are not as glamorous or dramatic as those of a breast augmentation or body lift, for example, the small changes that this surgery makes can have a much larger impact on a person’s happiness, self-esteem and lifestyle.
The ears often seem like an inconsequential feature, but anyone with ears that stick out or have an unusual shape will tell you otherwise. Concerns with the shape or projection of the ears can significantly limit a person’s lifestyle, especially in their formative years — they may avoid certain haircuts or styles, feel uncomfortable in social settings, experience teasing from their peers or feel unable to participate in activities like sports or theater. If these problems sound familiar, it might be time for you to look into otoplasty — and you can use our guide to start learning more about the procedure.
Otoplasty is for All Ages
Ear concerns can affect people at all stages of life. Experts agree that children may start teasing each other about appearances as early as six years old — around first grade. Because of this, parents frequently choose to have otoplasty performed on their children to prevent them from struggling through years of self-consciousness. The ears are about 85% developed by the age of five or six, which makes this an ideal time to have otoplasty performed. Additionally, children tend to heal quickly from the surgery and have excellent outcomes. For these reasons, pediatric otoplasties are common and even recommended by many plastic surgeons.
Otoplasty can also be performed at any later point in life. Preteens and teens may ask for the surgery as they become more aware of how their ears are affecting their confidence. Adults are more likely to have a full understanding of how their ears have impacted their lives, and may also be more likely to explore their surgical options. At Dr. Clayman’s Plastic Surgery Center and Miracle Spa, we see patients of all ages who benefit from otoplasty and we know that it’s never too late in life to discover your self-confidence.
Ear Surgery is Relatively Low-Risk
Part of what makes otoplasty appropriate for many people is that it’s known for being a safe surgery with a straightforward recovery. The auricle — the external portion of the ear that otoplasty addresses — does not contain any highly sensitive structures and is very adaptable to reshaping and healing. While there are many factors that influence the success and safety of your surgery, otoplasty, in general, has a low rate of complications and a high rate of patient satisfaction.
During the surgery itself, you’ll be kept comfortable with general anesthesia (local anesthesia may be appropriate in certain cases). Many patients are able to avoid the use of prescription narcotics during their recovery and opt for over-the-counter pain management instead. Any post-op pain fades quickly (within a few days) since the ears are quick to heal.
Recovery from Otoplasty Has Three Main Stages
The bulk of the healing from otoplasty takes place within a week or two. The first stage of healing lasts between three and five days: you’ll have bandages over your ears and will need to rest at home and keep your head elevated. Second, your bandages will be removed and you will be given a headband that you’ll need to wear to protect your ears. Depending on your particular surgery, you may need to wear this headband day and night for seven to ten days. Most patients feel comfortable returning to work and most daily activities within this time frame. Your surgeon will work with you to ensure you are healed enough to pick up your regular schedule.
The last stage of healing from otoplasty happens slowly over the course of a month or two. In this phase, you may need to wear your headband at night. But you likely won’t notice many more major changes in your appearance — during this stage, your scars will begin to flatten, any remaining tenderness, tingling or redness will fade and your ears will settle completely into their new shape or position.
You’ll Need to Treat Your Ears With Care
The sutures used in otoplasty can tear or expand over time. About 20% of otoplasty patients require a revision surgery later in life, often due to an injury to the ear. It’s important to keep your ears protected, especially during the first several months after your surgery — we may recommend avoiding contact sports or wearing certain headgear that might result in your ears being bent, pulled or hit. If you are an active athlete, you may want to consider wearing a protective headband to cover your ears while you compete.
Your surgeon will work closely with you to provide a complete set of aftercare instructions that align with your lifestyle. Be sure to discuss any possible roadblocks to healing or long-lasting results during your consultation appointment, so we can recommend ways to avoid causing injury or complications as you recover from your surgery.
Otoplasty Requires an Experienced Surgeon
Although otoplasty may seem like a fairly simple procedure, it’s not one that can be provided by all plastic surgeons. When you pursue any cosmetic surgery, you should always choose a provider who has particular experience with your procedure. This will ensure that your results are carefully planned and expertly executed. An otoplasty is no exception — the small adjustments made to the ears require keen attention to detail and an artistic eye for facial balance and symmetry. What’s more, since ear surgery is not one of the more popular cosmetic treatments, many surgeons don’t perform them often or don’t have the right expertise.
At Dr. Clayman’s Plastic Surgery Center and Miracle Spa, both of our board-certified plastic surgeons — Drs. Mark and Loren Clayman — are trained and experienced with providing otoplasties. If you are interested in learning more about ear surgery in Jacksonville, Florida, for yourself or for your child, don’t hesitate to reach out to us to schedule a consultation. Call us today at 904-388-6110 to get started.