Abnormally protruding ears can make a child of any age the object of cruel remarks by his or her peers. For any child whose appearance causes concern, otoplasty, “ear pinning” should be considered before peer pressure begins to play a significant role in the child’s self-esteem, typically age five or six. When otoplasty is performed at about age five the development of the ear cartilage is at an optimal state of maturity to accept the modified projection. Otoplasty is a safe, effective procedure performed to achieve a less noticeable appearance while maintaining function. Because of its potential to foster a child’s self-esteem, otoplasty is a most satisfying facial plastic surgery.
When discussing otoplasty and cosmetic surgery the best place to start is by looking at before and after photos to see just what can be accomplished. Adults often tell Dr. Lopez that their protruding ears detract from their beauty and ask to combine otoplasty with another surgery. Most rejuvenation and contouring surgery can be combined with otoplasty including facelift, browlift, blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), chin implants, rhinoplasty (nasal surgery), lip surgery and facial resurfacing.
At your initial consultation, Dr. Lopez evaluates your cartilage and soft tissue architecture of your face and ears. Assessment of the ears provides the basis for what one may expect from an otoplasty. Skin type, ethnic background and age, along with the degree of deformity and function are important factors influencing the outcome of surgery.
As with all facial plastic surgery, a thorough health assessment and realistic expectations are prerequisites. Your understanding of procedures and the postoperative routine is essential to a successful final result. Following your consultation, we continue our discussion at the preoperative appointment.
At your preoperative appointment Dr. Lopez will provide all the instructions for you to follow before and after surgery. An otoplasty takes about one to two hours depending on the ear structure and amount of protrusion prior to surgery. If you are having a combination of procedures your surgery will take longer. Recovery time from the anesthetic takes about an hour and you will be discharged about four hours from the time of admission.
When you wake up from surgery you will notice a soft, bulky head wrap dressing. Following your otoplasty, the nurses will ask assist you to meet the discharge criteria: to drink liquids, walk with a steady gait, void, and manage your discomfort. For patients who have a combination of procedures such as an eye lift, your vision may be cloudy from the ointment we place in your eyes at the time of surgery. The nurses will review all instructions you will need for care following your otoplasty.
You will be asked to come to Dr. Lopez’s office the following day after surgery for a dressing change. You will be asked to return in six to eight days for suture removal.
Advance diet from liquids to soft food (oatmeal, French toast, yogurt, soup, pasta) to your regular diet as tolerated. You have no diet restrictions. Often the anesthesia you received can make your stomach feel uneasy for the first 24 hours so avoid large meals.
Rest for entire day after surgery. Sleep with head of the bed elevated or use two to three pillows for one week after surgery. Absolutely no bending, lifting or straining. If you have little children, bend at the knees or sit on the floor and let them climb on to your lap. No driving for one week following surgery. Two weeks off work is recommended.
Bruising can be camouflaged at one week postoperatively with make-up. Always protect your face from the sun. At this point, a hat and sunglasses are a good idea. It is ok to apply sunscreen, cosmetics or facial creams two weeks after surgery. Avoid unprotected prolonged sun exposure for three months following a otoplasty to prevent pigmentation of incision lines.
Following an otoplasty, it takes time for the swelling to subside and for the skin to heal. Most patients return to work one to two weeks following surgery, depending on the degree of privacy one is trying to maintain. At two weeks postoperatively, swelling and bruising may be apparent to you but not to many of your coworkers and closest friends.
Final results following an otoplasty are not apparent for one full year following surgery Dr. Lopez will want to see you 3, 6 and 12 months after the surgery to ensure that you’re healing as anticipated.