Otoplasty is generally referred to as the surgical reshaping of the pinna, which is called the outer ear. The purpose may be to correct the irregularity of the ear lobe or to improve the physical appearance. A local oral surgeon in your area that specializes in the maxillofacial specialty should be able to perform this procedure.
Usually, the ears are placed around 2 centimeters from the side of the head. But people get irritated when they have ears more prominent than these generally.
A person who has caused damage to his ears or for some reason was born with a congenital anomaly can take the option to undergo reconstructive surgery. This is a medical procedure to build up or repair the outer ear.
Although, some people choose to undergo the surgery to improve the physical appearance of their outer ears. This is also termed as otoplasty.
It is recorded that in the year 2018, surgeons had conducted as many as 23,000 otoplasty procedures in the United States alone. This was stated by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Hereunder, you may learn more about otoplasty, what to expect, and the recovery time.
The otoplasty can be carried out by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Sometimes though it may be performed on the ear, nose, throat by a pediatric surgeon.
General or local anesthesia is administered to the child. Then an incision is made behind the ear and the stitches are applied, which may be permanent, to hold back the outer ear. The removal of cartilage is possible in some cases.
The procedure takes around 1-2 hours.
The incision might leave a scar, but that is hidden behind the ears, which allows it to be unnoticeable.
WHY HAVE AN OTOPLASTY?
The outer ear has very little to do with the hearing of an individual. However, it has much to do with the appearance of a person.
For some people, their ears are too prominent, and this can be a cause of embarrassment and psychological distress. In fact, the prominent ears can be a reason for low self-esteem, isolation, and lack of confidence.
This is the reason why some people go for surgery. Some parents are known to have subjected their children to such surgeries even before going to school.
IS THE TREATMENT ALWAYS NECESSARY?
The treatment is not always necessary as some of the deformities can also be resolved without intervention.
The most suitable time for a child to have otoplasty is between 5-6 years old and when 90% of the ear growth is complete. This is the earliest recommended age. However, a person can undergo surgery at any age of his life.
There is also a nonsurgical technique that is called ear molding or splitting and can be equally effective. It can be effective if started in the first 2-3 weeks of the child’s birth.
WHAT CAUSES PROMINENT EARS?
The outer ear is generally at an angle of 21 to 30 degrees to the side of the head. If the angle is more than 30 degrees then the ears tend to stick out and become prominent to the viewers.
This happens with the genetic conditions of the child or some health conditions that affect cartilage growth. Or it could be the effect of an external injury to the ear. These factors can affect either one or both the ears. But these conditions do not have any effect on a person’s hearing.
Prominent ears may run in families, but the occurrence is very random. A study has found that around 30 of the children with prominent ears were born with normal ears, but the shape started to change after the first 3 months of their life.
Research also states that prominent ears affect around 5% of Caucasian people.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING TREATMENT?
There are available various techniques, that can reduce the prominence of the ears. We have tried to cover these in detail in the section below.
EAR MOLDING OR SPLINTING
This is a safe simple procedure that is suitable for infants within the first few weeks of life. This is the time when the cartilage in the ears is at its softest. By the time the infant is about - 7 weeks old, the cartilage begins to stiffen.
In the process involved the surgeon will use splints to reshape the soft cartilage of the infant’s ear. The splint is used to reshape the ear and hold it in the new position.
There are different type of splints available in the market for the purpose.they are made of soft, elastic, moldable material.
The splint is fixed to the ear with surgical tape. The splint has to be in place for at least 24 hours and the child has to be taken for regular checkups to the Oral surgeon. The duration of wearing the splints can vary from a few weeks to a few months.
After 6 months of age, the cartilage becomes hard to be splinted. After that only surgery is the option left to the doctors.