Otoplasty to correct prominent ears

What does otoplasty involve?
Otoplasty is a surgical operation to correct prominent or protruding ears and ensure a suitable angle with respect to the side of the head.

How is otoplasty performed?
An incision is made in the groove behind the ear to expose the cartilage, which is then sutured to correct its shape and position. A small part of cartilage and skin is also removed in some cases. The entire operation takes about 90 minutes and can be performed in day surgery.

Does it leave scars?
Yes, otoplasty does leave very slight scars, which are in any case hidden behind the ears.

What type of anaesthetic is used in otoplasty?
General anaesthetic is always used for children, but local can then be used from the age of 13–14 on. Otoplasty can be described as truly painless also under local anaesthetic due to the ease and completeness with which the sensitive nerve endings of the auricular pavilion can be blocked.

From what age can otoplasty be performed?
If the ears are so prominent as to constitute a source of possible embarrassment for the child through fun being made at school, the operation can be performed as early as 5–6 years of age. If the condition is not so serious, it is preferable to wait until the child is at least 8–9 years old and capable of being involved in the decision about whether to operate.

What does the postoperative period involve?
At the end of the operation the ears are covered with a bandage all around the head. This is changed and the wounds are checked after 4 or 5 days. It is removed completely on the tenth day together with the sutures. From now on, the ears are free and uncovered, and all normal activities can be resumed. It is, however, advisable to wear an elastic band of the type used by tennis players all through the first month, but only on going to bed at night. There will inevitably be some variable degree of swelling in the postoperative period, which will in any case decrease in the space of about 2–3 weeks. The skin of the ears may also prove sensitive for some time. Sports and even intense physical activities can be resumed after the first month.

Can otoplasty and rhinoplasty be performed together?

An operation of monolateral or bilateral otoplasty can be performed at the same time as rhinoplasty, also when the latter is an operation of revision surgery, as in the case documented here.