Otoplasty & Protruding Ears
Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)
Ear surgery (otoplasty) is a type of facial cosmetic surgery performed on the ear to adjust the shape, position or proportion of the ear. Otoplasty is usually performed on larger ears to adjust their shape and size or set them closer to the head. This procedure can correct defects present at birth or treat injured ears. It also can be performed to perform scar removal. It may be beneficial to have ear surgery performed at a younger age before the patient is subject to ridicule or bullying.
Patients (or their parents) consider ear surgery if:
- Ears appear overly large in proportion to the head.
- Ears stick out too far from the head.
- They are dissatisfied with previous ear surgery.
Virtually anyone can be a candidate for ear surgery as long as the ears have reached their full size (typically around age 7). Otoplasty is usually performed on both ears to ensure they are as symmetrical as possible. The cosmetic facial surgery should not impact the patient’s ability to hear.
Every surgical procedure should begin with a consultation that discusses the goals of the surgery, medical conditions, potential risks and other factors to ensure the surgeon and patient have a mutual understanding.
During a consultation for ear surgery, patients should be prepared to discuss:
- The patient’s goals for the surgery (e.g., to reduce ear size or ear pinning that sets prominent ears closer to the head).
- Medical conditions, including drug allergies and any previous relevant treatments.
- General health, particularly any pre-existing conditions or risk factors for the procedure.
It is important for an honest discussion of expectations to occur during a consultation. A patient’s age, health and other factors can affect the results of ear surgery.
A consultation also is the ideal time to ask essential questions about the procedure, such as:
- What is expected of the patient to achieve the best results?
- What type(s) of anesthesia will be used?
- How long will recovery be?
- What are the risks and complications of ear surgery?
The ear surgery technique used by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon will vary depending on the type of correction needed. The specific technique will determine the location of any incisions and their corresponding scars. Incisions are often made on the back of the ears. When incisions are necessary on the front of the ear, the surgeon makes them within the folds of the ear to better hide them.
After making the incisions, the surgeon may remove excess skin or cartilage. He or she will sculpt or fold the cartilage into the proper position and secure it with internal, non-removable stitches. Additional stitches will be used to close the incisions.
After surgery, the patient’s ears will be bandaged for support and protection.
Itching and discomfort are common, and patients should follow their surgeon’s guidelines for pain medication after the surgery.
To ensure optimal recovery, patients should:
- Keep pressure off the ears. Avoid sleeping on the side or wearing headphones.
- Minimize pressure against the incisions.
- Avoid rubbing against the incisions. Consider wearing loose-fitting or button-down shirts.
- Bandages will often be removed a few days after surgery. Although the ears will still be swollen, patients should immediately notice a change in their appearance.
Patients who are unsatisfied with the results should discuss the possibility of a revision surgery with their doctor.
Torn Earlobe Repair
Earlobes may become torn after extended wear of large or heavy earrings, due to facial injury and trauma at the site of the earlobe, or a variety of other reasons. Torn earlobe repair is a surgical procedure which entails creating an incision, removing damaged tissue, and then closed with sutures. The procedure can usually be done without sedation using only local anesthetic in approximately one hour. Risks from torn earlobe repair surgery are minimal. After the surgery, patients may experience redness and swelling, but most patients can typically resume (light) activities the same day as surgery and return to work the following day.
Gauged Earlobe Repair
Continual stretching, or gauging, of the earlobes may result in torn earlobes, keloid scarring, or permanent disfigurement of the earlobes. Earlobe dilation can be surgically repaired using local anesthetic, removal of excess earlobe material, and sutures to close the earlobe hole so it can heal similar to its original, natural state.
Similarly, torn earlobes due to stretching can be surgically repaired. Keloid scarring of the earlobe is also treatable through a variety of topical and surgical techniques, with treatment selection dependent on the extensiveness of scarring.
Otoplasty - Earlobe Reduction
When patients prevent with too-large earlobes, floppy or hanging skin on the earlobe, or if a facial surgery requires re-anchoring to the earlobe, then an earlobe reduction surgery may be in order.
Earlobe reduction surgery is generally fast, low-risk, and involves minimal downtime and scarring. Two methods for earlobe reduction include wedge reduction which involves removing a small area of earlobe tissue then closing the space with stitches. Another technique, peripheral margin reduction, which involves local anesthesia and removal of an outlined and agreed-up area of the lower earlobe, then using stitches to close the wound at a juncture that will have little visible scarring.
The method of earlobe reduction surgery used depends on the patient’s needs and desired outcomes. An individual assessment can help a patient choose the right option for them.
If a patient’s earlobes are showing signs of wear, stretching, aging, or lack of fullness, earlobe rejuvenation may be a fitting treatment. Earlobe rejuvenation includes dermal filler treatments such as Juvéderm® and Restylane® in order to increase tissue volume, strengthen skin and connective tissue, and encourage collagen production. By injecting fillers into the earlobe area, this procedure can reduce sagging and stretching, partially close stretched earring holes, and increase the youthfulness of the earlobe’s appearance.
Earlobe rejuvenations are generally fast, low-cost, low-risk procedures that are temporary. They can be completed in-office with little to no downtime and may last six months to two years.
Piercings Gone Bad
Piercings can go wrong in a variety of ways including infection, misalignment, scarring, migration, tears, and disfigurement. TN Valley Oral Surgery offers a variety of techniques to resolve issues from piercings gone bad up to and including surgery. In order to determine which techniques would be right for your specific piercing problems, please visit us for a consultation.
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