Prominence of the ears may be due to an absence of normal folds within the ear cartilage or an excess of cartilage. Through manipulation of the cartilage, placing of sutures, and removal of excess skin and/or cartilage, the ears are brought closer to the head. In many patients, this prominence occurs on both sides, but otoplasty may also be performed to make one ear similar to the other.
Ear Surgery (Otoplasty) Procedure
The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis typically with either local anesthesia with sedation or general anesthesia. On the day of surgery, the procedure is again reviewed. The surgery involves an incision in the fold behind the ear, lifting of the skin, and placing of permanent sutures in the cartilage to create folds that do not exist. If there is excess cartilage or muscle, some of this may be removed as well. During the procedure, measurements are taken and compared side to side to achieve symmetry. Upon the completion of the procedure, a bulky awkward dressing is applied consisting of cotton and rolled gauze.
Recovery from Ear Surgery
Patients rarely complain of pain after this operation although they may experience a sense of throbbing due to the dressing. This should be relieved by oral pain medication. The dressing is left in place for approximately four days at which time it is then replaced with an elastic headband to be worn at night to avoid rolling over and folding the ears. This is worn for a total of four weeks. The sutures behind the ears are dissolvable. There is swelling of the ears that will last for approximately three to four weeks.