Otoplasty (Ear surgery): Candidacy, Recovery and Risks
This post will discuss all the basic things you need to know about otoplasty, also known as ear surgery. It will go into detail about how you can get ready for it, what kind of anaesthesia is needed, who makes a good candidate, and more. Let’s get started.
What is Otoplasty?
Otoplasty is a cosmetic procedure performed on the ears to change their size, position or shape. It is done to people with prominent or protruding ears – a condition in which the organs of hearing stick out too far away from the head.
The operation is carried out by a surgeon. They make a small incision at the back of the ear, right where the natural fold sits, setting aside the skin and muscles that get in the way. They remove as much cartilage as necessary to push the whole structure closer to the head. The tissue is kept in place with the help of non-dissolvable sutures. After that, the incision is closed with stitches.
The surgery does not affect one’s hearing. All of the work is done on the outside and away from any vital organs. Because the incisions are made at the back, the scar is not visible.
How Do You Prepare?
The first thing to do is to have a consultation with an experienced specialist. They will review your medical history. This is when you talk about any health conditions you have or drugs you are taking. Next, the doctor will do a physical exam, checking ear symmetry, shape and placement. And the last step is to explain what you are hoping to get from the surgery, why you are doing it and how you believe it will impact your life. It is important to be honest and detailed.
Once you schedule a day and time for the operation, you need to follow the doctor’s advice. You will be instructed to avoid taking anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, stop smoking, and adjust your current medications, if any.
How Long Will Recovery Take?
Otoplasty comes with a relatively short recovery. You can leave the hospital several hours after you’ve had the procedure. It’s advisable that you take a couple of days off work – you are free to return to your normal activities on the third one. In the meantime, pain and discomfort can be managed using painkillers. About a week after the surgery, you should have the sutures removed. For the next two months you will be wearing a bandage that will keep your ears in place. Being a vital part of the healing process, this step is not to be skipped. The cartilage will not take on its new shape right away, it needs time to do the trick. And unless you put a bandage on it every day, your ears might assume their original shape and position.
What about Anaesthesia?
Sometimes the procedure is done with a combination of local anaesthesia and intravenous sedation, which numb the treatment area but doesn’t render you unconscious. In a word, you will be awake but relaxed. Quite possibly, you won’t remember what had happened as vividly as you would without the analgesia.
In other cases, especially when it comes to kids, general anaesthesia is the best option as it puts you to sleep.
Who is a Good Candidate?
Anyone can have the surgery as long as they are in good health and meet the age requirements of 5-7 years old and above (the ear stops growing at around that age). On that note, the majority of patients are children and teens. This is something that can keep them from being mocked in school. Of course, adults can benefit from otoplasty as well to improve both their appearance and self-esteem. The sooner it happens, the better.
What are the Risks of Ear Surgery?
Yes, otoplasty is done for cosmetic reasons, but at the end of the day this is surgery and it involves risks, including bleeding, infection, changes in skin sensation, asymmetrical results, scarring, and inflammation. It’s also possible to get an allergic reaction to the materials that are used during the operation.