Ear Surgery (Otoplasty) for Ear Deformities

Ear surgery, also known as otoplasty, is surgical procedure to correct ear deformities or ear malformations by improving the shape, size, positioning, and/or functionality of the ears. Otoplasty is typically utilized to repair congenital (present at birth) cosmetic defects of ear deformities and ear malformations caused by disease or injury.

Dr. Steve Byrd, known locally as “the ear doctor”, is a dual board certified plastic surgeon who routinely performs cosmetic otoplasty on both children and adults. Ear surgery is usually recommended to be performed at approximately age 5 or older, when cartilage is stable and the ears have reached their full size.

Otoplasty can correct most external types of ear deformities, including:

  • Prominent ears/protruding ears
  • Stahl’s ear
  • Constricted ear (lop ear)
  • Microtia and anotia (often in conjunction with a team of specialists)
  • Earlobe deformities
  • Cryptotia
  • Split earlobes
  • Cauliflower ear
  • Ear keloids
  • Ear hemangiomas

Many of these ear deformities can also be corrected non-surgically with an innovative ear molding technique co-invented by Dr. Byrd called Earwell Infant Ear Correction System. If detected and treated within the first two weeks of life, ear deformities can be effectively corrected with the Earwell ear molding system with greater than a 90% success rate.

What is the Ear Surgery (Otoplasty) Procedure?

Prior to otoplasty, Dr. Byrd will meet with you to examine your or your child’s ears, as well as discuss your options and expectations for ear surgery. Measurements will be taken and Dr. Byrd will explain the otoplasty procedure.

Otoplasty is performed as an outpatient procedure typically at a day surgery center or hospital. The procedure usually lasts 2-3 hours, during which time the ears are reshaped and/or repositioned by manipulating the cartilage. Incisions may be made on the backs of the ears (to hide any scarring) or within the ear creases, and excess cartilage or skin may be removed. Techniques that may be utilized during otoplasty include:

  • Cartilage scoring
  • Cartilage suturing
  • Cartilage re-sectioning

Internal sutures may be used to maintain proper ear position, and external stitches will be used to close any incisions.

Postoperative Care After Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)

After the otoplasty is completed, the ears will be packed with medicated gauze and covered with bandages for support, protection, and to keep swelling to a minimum. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication, although most patients experience only minor discomfort. Antibiotics will also be prescribed to prevent infection.  Other tips after otoplasty include:

  • Avoid rubbing, itching, or placing pressure on the ears
  • Rest with your head elevated when you return home from otoplasty to minimize swelling
  • Try not to sleep on your side
  • Wear shirts with loose fitting collars or button-downs to avoid pulling the ears
  • Limit activity until your first post-op appointment (usually in 5-7 days)
  • Strenuous activity should be avoided for approximately 3 weeks and contact sports for at least 6 weeks after otoplasty
  • Wear a loose headband (provided to you after bandage removal) during sleep for the first few weeks after surgery
  • If you experience severe pain, contact your doctor as soon as possible, as this can be a sign of hematoma

You will have several follow-up appointments after otoplasty to monitor healing, as well as remove any non-dissolvable sutures. It is normal for the ears to have some bruising or swelling, and this will dissipate within a couple of weeks. Your doctor will advise you on when to resume normal activities, such as bathing and sports. When your bandages are removed, you should notice an improvement in your ears immediately.  If you have any concerns or questions during recovery, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

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