Otoplasty is a cosmetic ear surgery procedure that can improve ear size and shape. Having ears that are either too small, too large, or asymmetrical can draw attention away from your face. As a result, children may be teased, and adults may feel self-conscious about how they look. As a double board-certified Atlanta plastic surgeon, Dr. Christopher Killingsworth and his plastic surgery team specialize in otoplasty surgery to reshape protruding or outward-pointing ears.*
WHAT IS OTOPLASTY?
When ears protrude instead of tapering back towards the head, it can significantly affect confidence and self-esteem. Adults with prominent ears may be self-conscious about their appearance and may attempt to hide their ears from public view with hats or different hairstyles. Even from the young age of three to four years, children can begin to recognize the difference in their ears from that of their peers and this feeling that they are somehow “different” can escalate as they grow older. Children who attend school with protruding ears are often subjected to teasing and caustic remarks that can lead to emotional and psychological stress.
For children and adults who have ears that are too large, uneven, or misshapen, cosmetic ear surgery may be a solution. Ear surgery, also known as otoplasty, is a procedure that reshapes the ear, placing it closer to the head. Ear surgery is unique in that it is one of the only cosmetic procedures performed more commonly on children than adults. Some people are born with ears that stick out too far. This condition is called “lop ear deformity”. In lop ear deformity, the part of the upper ear that looks like a “Y” (the antihelix) is too flat and there is excess cartilage in the bowl-like part of the lower ear (the concha). Lop ear deformity can draw unwanted attention to the ears, and many patients (children and adults alike) may wish to change the shape of their ears as a result.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF EAR SURGERY?*
Otoplasty can improve facial balance by:
- Changing the size of the ears
- Improving the overall shape of the ears
- Pinning the ears closer to the head
- Correcting ear structure
- Enhancing ear symmetry
AM I A CANDIDATE FOR EAR PINNING OR EAR RESHAPING?
At Killingsworth Center for Plastic Surgery, we offer otoplasty to reposition the ears back into a natural position while improving the appearance of abnormally-shaped ears. Otoplasty is also referred to as “pinning the ears back.” Ear surgery is the most effective way to bring the ears back into proportion with the rest of the head. While certainly not restricted to children, the average patient age for otoplasty is between four and fourteen years old.
Ear surgery for children is recommended at the age of five or six as they near total ear development. Unlike other facial features, at this age a child’s ear has reached its adult size and is almost fully (90%) formed. Another incentive for early otoplasty is that the ear cartilage is soft and malleable during childhood, making the surgery easier to perform. When ear surgery is performed at a young age, children are usually very compliant, and it can reduce the chance of potential ridicule from their classmates. During otoplasty, the child’s ears are commonly made to appear smaller and / or less prominent before reshaping them into a normal position. To ensure a successful outcome, ear surgery must be a family decision. Parents should be in tune with their child’s interest in the otoplasty procedure and should not pressure them until they are ready, as this can cause unnecessary anxiety and fear.*
Adults too can benefit from otoplasty, as there is no upper age limit for ear surgery. Besides patients seeking otoplasty for cosmetic reasons, ear reshaping can also reconstruct ears that have been injured in an accident. Additionally, earlobe surgery can be performed to repair earlobes that are torn from wearing heavy earrings or accidents.*
During your consultation, Dr. Killingsworth and his plastic surgery team will discuss options regarding anesthesia, as well as the many surgical techniques that are available to improve the appearance of your ears. The particular method recommended will depend on your procedure goals and expectations, your personal anatomy, and many other factors. Our ear surgeons will select the surgical technique that can best obtain the ideal outcome for you.*
HOW IS OTOPLASTY PERFORMED?
Otoplasty is typically performed as an outpatient procedure that can take two to three hours to complete. General anesthesia is commonly used for children, while adults and young adults may receive local anesthesia with oral sedation. If you have protruding ears, your otoplasty surgeon will reshape the supporting tissue of the ears (cartilage) in order to position your ears closer to your head. This is accomplished through incisions placed behind the ears concealed in the natural skin crease. For ears that need to be reduced in size or ears that are protruding in the middle 1/3 of the ear, external incision of the front (outside surface) of the ear will be necessary. The incisions will be placed in inconspicuous areas. During ear reduction surgery, skin and cartilage will need to be removed before the incision(s) are sutured back together.*
It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery from ear surgery varies greatly among individuals. For the first several days after your surgery, you should maintain head elevation as much as possible, and any pain can be controlled with oral medication. You will be instructed to wear gauze dressing or bandages for a few days to ensure that your ears heal in their new, corrected position. A headband to cover the ears should be worn at night to prevent the ears from bending during sleep. Straining, bending, and lifting should be avoided during the early postoperative period. Some patients find that mild swelling may persist for several weeks, although bruising typically disappears within two weeks. Most patients can resume normal activities within ten days or less and children usually require one to two weeks off from school for recovery. Thousands of cosmetic ear surgeries are performed every year. Since results are long-lasting, otoplasty is typically a rewarding surgery for many patients.*
HOW MUCH DOES OTOPLASTY IN ATLANTA COST?
The cost of your ear surgery may be partially covered by your medical insurance. After your consultation, we advise you as to whether your otoplasty is medically indicated. If ear surgery is only cosmetic, you are responsible for the full cost. We accept payment by cash, personal check, credit card, CareCredit®, and Alphaeon® Credit financing.
HOW DO I GET STARTED WITH OTOPLASTY IN ATLANTA?
Dr. Christopher Killingsworth and his staff of plastic surgery professionals would be happy to help you set up a personal consultation to discuss otoplasty in more detail. Contact our Atlanta office at 678.208.6008, our Cumming, GA office at 678.400.0302, or request an appointment online today.