You probably remember the kid in grade school with big ears – the one always getting teased. Large, protruding ears are the bane of childhood. As we grow older, they can make us feel self-conscious about our appearance.
Perhaps, prominent ears run in your family. Approximately 25% of children by parents with prominent ears will also develop prominent ears, and the same teasing you may have suffered as a child may be part of your child’s early years. Otoplasty, or corrective surgery for prominent ears, can be done any age after five years. By age five, the ear cartilage has grown to nearly adult size and is resilient enough to support corrective surgery. Dr. Chatham uses special suture techniques to reshape the ear cartilages into a natural shape. These techniques are well established and time-proven.Otoplasty can give you, or your child, gratifying, permanent results quickly and effectively. It is not unusual for a parent to bring their child in for consultation, and remark “I wish I had the opportunity to have had my ears improved when I was a child.”
In adults, the surgery can be performed under local or general anesthesia. It is recommended that children be completely asleep for the surgery, since it lasts approximately two hours. The surgery is performed through an incision behind the ear so there is no visible scar. Note that ears are not the same exact size or shape from right to left. Our goal during surgery is to help them look as balanced as possible but there are always subtle differences in ears if one studies them carefully.
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After the surgery, a large protective dressing is applied for one day. Afterwards, children wear a headband day and night for two weeks, followed by headband use at night only for an additional 4-6 weeks. The headband helps to protect the ears from abrupt changes in position during the critical early healing period. Discomfort is not typically great, but medicine is prescribed as needed.Adults may choose to wear the headband at night only from the start. Full activity can be resumed in two weeks, and contact sports are safe after six weeks. At first, the ears feel numb and look flat against the side of the head. Mild bruising is usual, but this subsides usually in about one week. Over the next few months, there sometimes can be some “rebound” as the elasticity of the cartilage of the ears sometimes may slightly reposition itself. If this should become noticeable later, we typically recommend an additional suture behind the ear, and this can be done in the office.
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A natural result is our goal. We do not want to overcorrect the ears so that they look pasted back. Nor are we trying to remove part of the ear so that they look “different”. We want to reposition them in a more idea position so that they really are not noticed. (Rarely does one hear: “My what pretty ears you have”.). Ears are nice, but we typically do not focus much on them unless they protrude or are absent.Many adults (and young people, too) enjoy the ability to wear their hair anyway they wish following otoplasty. Before surgery, it is not unusual to have to style hair in ways that hide one’s ears. A newfound sense of confidence often ensues and the effect is improved confidence.
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