If your ears or the ears of your child protrude, or if the ears have become injured or misshapen, otoplasty or ear surgery is a specialized plastic surgery procedure that improves their appearance. For some, the otoplasty procedure needed is a technique often called “ear pinning,” which involves bringing the ear back toward the scalp to a more normal position. For others, the cartilage of the ears must be reshaped. In some cases, both ear pinning and ear reshaping/resizing are required.
As a highly customized surgery, ear surgery requires exceptional skill. Dr. Valdez is among the most experienced otoplasty surgeons in the country. They have performed ear surgery on both children and adults. The ears reach full size at a young age, so it can be done early to prevent a child from the embarrassment of prominent or misshapen ears.
Patients seeking otoplasty usually have adequate cartilage that simply has not developed a normal curvature and positioning. The cartilage can be properly curved by surgeons, but some surgeons advocate sharp cutting, which leaves a sharp or straight line.
For patients who have previously undergone a prominent ear correction that was unsuccessful, we can usually correct it with the use of our gentle, cartilage-curving technique.
Ear surgery can bring protruding ears closer to the head, reshape injured or misshapen ears, or resize ears that are too large. Note that ear surgery has no effect on hearing.
Ear surgery can usually be performed on an outpatient basis using general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation. The incisions are located behind the ear or within the folds of the ear so that the scars are almost impossible to see. If protruding ears are to be placed closer to the scalp, permanent sutures attach the back of the ears to the head. Reshaping the ears may require grafting cartilage from one part of the ear to another, although this is not necessary in most cases.
Recovery is rapid after an ear surgery, and pain is minimal. The patient can typically shower the very next day following surgery and resume normal activities shortly thereafter. We do ask our patients to wear a headband for six weeks following surgery to prevent accidental injury to the ears.
If there is post-operative pain, medication can be taken. Often, over-the-counter pain pills are sufficient.
Of course, we will monitor your progress in follow-up appointments and answer any questions you have while you or your child heals.
Ear surgery is permanent.