When one area of the face is out of balance with the other facial features, it can negatively impact the overall facial aesthetics. One common facial balance issue is ears that protrude too far from the sides of the head, making them look overly large. Otoplasty, or ear reshaping surgery, is a popular option for permanently bringing the ears in closer to the head, improving facial balance and aesthetics.
In this Article
Dr. Donald Roland is pleased to offer this otoplasty procedure for both adults and children in New York City (NYC) to help patients improve their self-confidence.
What is Otoplasty?
Otoplasty is a cosmetic surgical procedure that is primarily performed to pull the ears closer to the head, resolving ears that protrude too far from the head. Ear surgery can also be used to reconstruct the ear or resolve other issues, such as the “lop ear” deformity. Otoplasty is one of the few plastic surgery procedures that is routinely performed on children because the ears mature at a young age and the surgery can help prevent bullying and self-esteem issues. Adults can also undergo otoplasty if their ears protrude or have other cosmetic defects.
Why Choose Cosmetic Ear Surgery?
Most patients choose otoplasty because they are embarrassed by the appearance of their ears and feel self-conscious in social settings. Adult patients can typically improve their confidence and self-esteem by changing the positioning of the ears.
Parents choose otoplasty for their children so that they will not have to endure teasing and bullying from classmates when they begin attending school. Young children bounce back quickly from surgery and may not even remember the experience when they are older. Many patients who decide to move forward with otoplasty as adults cite years of torment from their peers.
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Good Candidates for Otoplasty
Ideal patients for otoplasty are people with protruding ears, a lop ear deformity, or another cosmetic issue of the ear or ears. Patients should be in general good health and should not smoke or be willing to quit since smoking compromises healing and increases risks. Patients should have realistic expectations and be able to commit to a brief recovery period after surgery.
Parents who are interested in otoplasty for their young children will need to wait until the ears have matured. This typically occurs around ages 4-5. The cartilage is softer at this age, making the surgery easier to perform.
Individual candidacy will be assessed during a consultation with Dr. Roland.
An Otoplasty Consultation with Dr. Roland
Before scheduling an appointment for otoplasty surgery, patients must schedule a consultation with Dr. Roland in New York City (NYC). Parents who wish to have their children undergo surgery must bring them in for the consultation so Dr. Roland can examine the ears, talk to the patient, and make recommendations.
During the consultation, Dr. Roland talks to patients about their goals and goes over their health history. He will examine the ears and determine individual candidacy for the otoplasty procedure. If patients or the patient’s parents have questions, this is the perfect opportunity to ask them and to address any concerns. The consultation is important for planning the procedure and is a great opportunity for patients to get to know Dr. Roland and his staff.
The Otoplasty Procedure
Once patients have been through the consultation process and have decided to move forward, the procedure can be scheduled. It will be performed either at Dr. Roland’s office or a New York City (NYC) hospital or surgical center. The procedure usually takes two to three hours to complete.
The anesthesia type used will depend on the wishes of the patient and the patient’s age. Local anesthesia may be used for adult patients, but general anesthesia is typically required for children. Once the anesthesia has been administered, incisions will be made in the natural crease behind the ears. Through this incision, Dr. Roland weakens the ear cartilage so that it can be bent into a new shape and secured closer in toward the head. Once the new position of the ears is established, Dr. Roland sutures the tissues into place and closes the incisions.
Recovery and Activity Restrictions
After surgery, patients should expect some minor discomfort. However, pain medications will be prescribed to help control this discomfort. Bandages will be placed around the ears to help them heal, keep the area clean, and help support the ears in their new shape and position. These will be removed several days after the surgery and a soft headband will be worn for the remainder of the recovery period.
Some swelling and itching is normal. Parents must ensure that children do not scratch at their incisions or remove the bandages. Patients should try to sleep on their back or stomach to avoid jostling the ears at night and should follow all of Dr. Roland’s postoperative instructions to promote optimal healing. Patients will typically have external sutures removed by one week after surgery and should be able to return to school or work in 5-7 days. Contact sports and other activities that could harm the ears must be postponed for at least a month.
Are otoplasty and ear pinning the same thing?
Yes. The terms are often used interchangeably, but the surgery is essentially the same: pulling the ears in closer to the head and “pinning” them back. Otoplasty is the medical term and sometimes refers to other ear reshaping procedures beyond pinning, however.
Is it safe for children to undergo otoplasty?
It is very common for children as young as four to have their ears pinned. Children who are in good health should have no problems undergoing otoplasty. Many young children come through the procedure well each year, healing quickly from surgery. As long as the procedure is performed by an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon, complications associated with the surgery are very rare.
What are the risks of otoplasty?
Like any surgery, otoplasty does carry some risks. However, they tend to be minimal. Possible risks include bleeding, infection, a poor aesthetic outcome, or reoccurrence of ear protrusion. Risks and complications are reduced when patients are good candidates for the procedure, do not smoke, and follow all of their surgeon’s instructions. A qualified plastic surgeon is very familiar with the risks of otoplasty and will advise patients on how to minimize those risks.
Will the surgery affect hearing?
The procedure does not involve working with the inner structures of the ears. When performed correctly, there should be no risk to the hearing. Only the outer cartilage is affected.
Are the results permanent?
Otoplasty is intended to be a permanent fix for protruding ears. In most cases, patients enjoy their results for years, if not permanently. However, there is a small risk that the ear protrusion will reoccur. This is something to discuss with your surgeon before moving forward with surgery.
Are there scars after otoplasty?
Surgery always results in scars, but the incisions made during otoplasty are hidden in the crease behind the ears. There should be no visible scarring whatsoever.
When will I see the results?
Otoplasty results are visible immediately, but the bandages used to keep the ears in place will obscure the results until patients are allowed to remove the dressings. Swelling may distort the final results for the first few weeks, so it’s important to realize that the final look of the ears will not settle until a few months after surgery.
How will I know if my child is ready for surgery?
This is a question many parents struggle with and unfortunately, there is no clear answer: each situation is unique. Children must be emotionally mature enough to be involved in the decision and must be able to follow direction during recovery so that they do not injure themselves or compromise the results of the surgery. Each family must make their own decision based on their child’s personality and maturity.
When can I exercise after surgery?
Patients should take it easy the first few days and should limit activity to slow walking. After a few weeks, moderate exercise can be resumed. It’s important to follow activity restriction guidelines closely and to avoid contact sports or other activity that could damage the ears for at least a month.
When is the best age for otoplasty?
Although both children and adults make good candidates for otoplasty, children often benefit the most from an otoplasty. They can undergo the procedure before they enter kindergarten or while school is not in session. This way, they can avoid a lot of teasing during their school years. Additionally, the ears are more pliable and easier to shape at a young age.
Ear Reshaping Surgery with a Trusted Surgeon
When you or your child undergoes cosmetic surgery, it’s important to choose a facial plastic surgeon you can trust. Dr. Donald Roland is a renowned board-certified New York City (NYC) plastic and reconstructive surgeon with extensive experience in performing otoplasty. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Roland, call the office at (212) 744-9400.