Otoplasty (Ear Reshaping)
Introduction to Otoplasty
Although protruding ears are considered a sign of good fortune by some, in most cultures, they are associated with feelings of anxiety and social discomfort. Most people with protruding ears also have a deep concha, the bowl-shaped space just outside the opening of the ear canal, which pushes the entire ear away from the side of the head. Although protruding ears don’t cause any functional problems such as hearing loss, they can be a source of ridicule, especially for young children. Today, there are a number of non-surgical and surgical techniques that allow for the correction of this deformity with minimal pain and disruption of lifestyle. Seattle Face & Skin offers Otoplasty to our Seattle patients to help improve the appearance of their ears and help increase their confidence.
What is Otoplasty?
The procedure to correct protruding ears is usually performed through an incision behind the ears. A combination of cartilage scoring and suturing is used to create an antihelical fold. At times, additional sutures on the back of the conchal cartilage bring the entire ear closer to the side of the head. A postoperative dressing is used to help keep the ears in their new positions.
For adults or for children whose ears are too stiff for molding, a surgical correction is an option. This type of ear surgery is sometimes called ear pinning, or setback otoplasty. It may be preferable to wait until about age 6 when ears are almost fully grown. This is also the age when children typically begin to be teased by their peers, which provides additional incentive to undergo surgery. By the time a child is 3 years old, 85% of auricular growth is complete, and the cartilaginous growth is almost complete by age 5 years. Because of these growth characteristics, surgical intervention can be accomplished at the age of 5 or 6 years without hindering additional growth.
Non-surgical ear molding
Protruding ears can often be corrected without surgery if your child comes to us early enough (within the first several weeks of life), while the ears are still soft. Ear molding uses a combination of a commercially available ear molding system to reshape the ear and bring it closer to the side of the head. The ear is splinted by the mold, and the amount of time required may vary depending on the age of your child. For a newborn, two weeks of treatment may be enough to correct the deformity. For older children, several months of ear molding may be required to achieve permanent correction because as your child grows, his or her ears become less flexible and less responsive to molding.
What are the Benefits of Otoplasty?
For our Seattle patients with larger or protruding back ears, there are so many wonderful benefits from Otoplasty, including:
- Can be performed at almost any age
- Correcting prominent ears
- Increased self-confidence
- More natural facial appearance
- Results are permanent
- Treatment is safe
Who are the Best Candidates for Otoplasty?
An ear is typically considered protruding if the helical rim sits over 2 cm away from the side of the head. As described above, non-surgical techniques can be effective for children within the first several weeks of life. Children whose ears are too stiff for molding and adults with protruding ears are candidates for otoplasty surgery.
Before your surgery, you or your child may have one more pre-operative visit. This visit typically involves a pre-operative history and physical at our office. This visit is performed to assess any medical issues you may have and to ensure that your or your child’s surgery is conducted most safely. Pre and post-operative instructions are reviewed, and this visit is also an opportunity for you to ask additional questions that may have arisen after the initial consultation.
What’s the First Step?
The initial consultation begins with understanding your history and performing a full head and neck examination, followed by a discussion of how best to meet your vision.
During your consultation, a variety of techniques for otoplasty may be discussed. A method is chosen that results in the best outcome for you. Pre and post-treatment examples of other similar patients are often reviewed. The details of the procedure and post-operative care are explained, and any questions you may have are answered. If a plan is confirmed to move forward with surgery, you meet with our patient care coordinator to schedule a surgery date.
What to Expect on the Day of Otoplasty
Once in the pre-operative area, you will meet the nursing and anesthesiology staff who will take care of you or your child during your procedure. Your surgeon will meet with you and your family before the procedure to review the procedure and discuss any last-minute questions you have. After the procedure is performed, you or your child will be taken to the recovery room. An ear dressing will be in place that may be removed the next day at your post-operative visit or at home by you. All otoplasty procedures are performed as outpatient surgery, and you will be sent home with detailed post-operative instructions and pain medication. We will call you on the night of surgery to ensure that you are doing well and to answer any questions.
Although every patient’s recovery experience is unique, most individuals return to work or school after one to two weeks, although you will need to refrain from strenuous physical activity for an additional four to six weeks. You will be given pain medication to manage any discomfort and antibiotic ointment to prevent infection. Children may need to be monitored during the first 24 – 36 hours after surgery to ensure the initial surgical dressing remains dry and in place. When you return to Seattle Face & Skin for your one-week follow-up appointment, you will notice visible improvements to the shape and position of your ears, and these initial results will continue to improve over the next four to six weeks, as any residual swelling subsides.
How Much Does Otoplasty Cost in Seattle?
The cost of an Otoplasty in Seattle will be determined by a number of factors, including the techniques and method of sedation used, as well as the degree of change you are trying to achieve. When you come in for your consultation and Dr. Bhrany creates your surgical plan, our Patient Coordinator will then be able to provide you with a price breakdown.
Why Choose Us?
At Seattle Face & Skin, we aim to partner with our patients to provide the best possible care for aesthetic facial rejuvenation and reconstruction. From the moment you contact our office, we focus on your needs to ensure you fully understand the possibilities, limitations, and opportunities available to produce the best outcome for you. Our team is led by Dr. Amit D. Bhrany, a double board-certified in Facial Plastic Surgery and Otolaryngology (Ear Nose, and Throat Surgery) and a member of AAFPRS (American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery). After earning his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and doctorate in medicine from Boston University, he completed his residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Washington (UW). Dr. Bhrany then spent two years of additional sub-specialty training, developing skills for cosmetic facial plastic surgery, reconstructing all aspects of the head and neck, as well as head and neck cancer surgery and microsurgical reconstruction after being awarded fellowships in Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and Facial Plastic Surgery at UW.
Schedule Your Consultation
At Seattle Face & Skin, we don’t believe there is any reason you or your child should have to continue through life with prominent or sagging ears. If you are interested in Otoplasty in Seattle for either you or a loved one, please don’t hesitate and call us at (206) 599-3222. You can also request a consultation through our website and a member of our team will be in touch with you shortly.
Your procedure questions answered.
Otoplasty isn’t a painful procedure as you will be under general anesthesia for it, however, you can expect some discomfort following the procedure due to the bandage used to reduce swelling and preserve healing. Dr. Bhrany will prescribe some temporary pain medication to make the first stage of your recovery more bearable.
The ultimate goal of otoplasty surgery is to achieve a permanent aesthetic result by introducing normal anatomy and position into the protruding ear. Typically, we use a cartilage-sparing technique by placing sutures to create a natural, normal-appearing, and positioned ear.
Your first post-operative visit will typically be one week after surgery to assess healing. You will then follow-up up one month after surgery and usually every three to six months for the first year after your surgery to ensure adequate healing.
While you may be able to notice results almost immediately, your recovery time will really depend on the condition of your ears before surgery, Your ears will still be settling into place and will most likely still be bruised and swollen, but our patients can begin to see the benefits from their Otoplasty in about six weeks, with the full results revealing themselves after about three months when your ears are fully healed.
Our Seattle Otoplasty patients are so pleased with their appearance after their surgery, but sometimes they also want more work done to enhance their profile. In these instances, some well-paired surgeries include Rhinoplasty, Chin Augmentation, or Brow Lift, but if you have any particular goals in mind for your appearance, please discuss them with Dr. Bhrany during your consultation for his expert recommendations.
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks such as bleeding, infection, poor healing, and risks related to undergoing anesthesia. More specific to otoplasty surgery, there are risks of deformity under-correction, over-correction, asymmetry, and the need for additional revision surgery.