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Cosmetic ear surgery


Definition:

Cosmetic ear surgery is a procedure to move very large or prominent ears closer to the head.

Alternative Names:

Otoplasty; Ear pinning; Ear surgery - cosmetic

Description:

Cosmetic ear surgery may be done in the surgeon's office, an outpatient clinic, or a hospital. It can be performed under local anesthesia, which numbs the area around the ears. Or, it can be done under general anesthesia, in which you are asleep and pain-free. The procedure usually lasts about 2 hours.

During the most common method of cosmetic ear surgery, a surgeon makes a cut in the back of the ear and removes the skin to see the ear cartilage. The cartilage is folded to reshape the ear, bringing it closer to the head. Sometimes the surgeon will cut the cartilage before folding it. Sometimes skin is removed from behind the ear. Stitches are used to close the wound.

Why the Procedure Is Performed:

The procedure can be done after a child reaches age 5 or 6, when ear growth is almost finished. However, if the ears are very disfigured (lop ears), the child should have surgery early to avoid possible emotional stress at school.

Risks:

Complications such as blood clots and infection are uncommon.

Other risks of the procedure include:

  • Areas of numbness
  • Increased feeling of cold
  • Recurrence of the ear deformity
  • Keloids and other scars
  • Poor results
After the Procedure:

The ears are covered with a thick bandage after surgery. Any tenderness and discomfort can be controlled with medication. If the surgery is done in a hospital, the child should go home the same day or the next day.

The ear bandages are removed after 2 - 4 days. However, the child will need to wear a light head wrap or headband for 2 - 3 weeks to help the area heal. The child can return to school and normal activities when the ears heal.

Outlook (Prognosis):

Scars are very light and are hidden in the creases behind the ears.

The child might need a second procedure if the ear sticks out again.

References:

Adamson PA, Doud Galli SK, Chen T. Otoplasty. In: Cummings CS, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 33.


Review Date: 10/22/2013
Reviewed By: David A. Lickstein, MD, FACS, Specializing in Cosmetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery, Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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