Our face is the first thing people visually notice about us. Our ears rarely attract attention when normal in size and relationship to other facial features. However, protruding, large or misshapen ears can detract from facial appearance. Children with prominent ears may suffer the ridicule of peers and a resulting lack of self-confidence. If protruding ears bother you or your child, you may consider plastic surgery of the ear to correct this. Ear surgery is plastic surgery performed to improve the shape, position or proportion of the ear. It can correct a defect in the ear structure that is present at birth, or that becomes apparent or worse as your child develops.
Is Ear Surgery For You Or Your Child?
Prominent ears in a child are often noticed shortly after birth. In this situation, sometimes ear molding can be instituted with some success. This is done by positioning the ear cartilage in its proper shape and holding it there with the use of headbands and certain dressings. This type of treatment is often successful in the very young child due to the high level or circulating maternal estrogen which makes cartilage very pliable. These high levels of circulating estrogen often disappear by age of six months or so, and by this time, ear molding is no longer a very effective treatment modality in reshaping malformed ears. Sometimes adults who have prominent ears but for whatever reason have not sought correction, decide to consider treatment so that their ears have better shape and are more harmonious with the rest of their face. Whether a child or an adult, patients who are healthy and good surgical candidates can look forward to a surgical treatment which is very efficacious in addressing their concern.
Understanding The Surgery
Although ear surgery to correct protruding ears can be performed with local anesthesia with or without sedation in adults, children usually require general anesthesia for the procedure. This surgery can be performed on an ambulatory basis in either a hospital, surgical facility or office operating room. Surgical correction of protruding ears uses techniques to reduce enlarged conchal cartilage. Usually, through an incision in the skin behind the ear, internal, permanent sutures are placed to create and secure the newly shaped cartilage in place. Once the cartilage stitches are done, external “skin” stitches close the incision, which is not visualized due to its strategic location behind the folded ear. Surgical techniques are individualized, taking care not to distort other structures and to avoid an unnatural “pinned back” appearance. Ear surgery offers near immediate results in cases of protruding ear, visible once the dressings that support the new shape of the ear during initial phases of hearing are removed.
What To Expect After Surgery
Bandages or dressings will be applied to keep the surgical site clean, protect it from trauma and to support the new position of the ear during initial healing. Discomfort immediately following ear surgery is normal and can be controlled with pain medication. There may be an itchy feeling under bandages. It is essential that bandages remain intact and are not removed, for any reason. Failure to do so may result in loss of some of the correction and may require a secondary surgery. A return to light, normal activity is possible as soon as the day following surgery, as long as the ears are protected. Children should refrain from rough or aggressive play until healing is complete. Healing will continue for several weeks and incision lines will slowly refine and fade. Continue to follow your plastic surgeon’s instructions and attend follow-up visits as scheduled.
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The New You
The outcome of surgery to correct protruding ears is present almost immediately. It may take several months for swelling to completely subside and incision lines to refine and fade. During this time, proper skin care and diligent sun protection are essential. In addition, the ears should be protected from extreme cold or injury. A personal consultation with your plastic surgeon is the best way to gain information about your particular complaint, and about potential treatment options to address the same.