Corrective ear surgery, also known as otoplasty, is a surgical process to change the appearance of the ears (reshaping), set protruding ears back closer to the head, or alter the size and shape of ears that are too large or disproportionate. As ears are almost fully developed by age four, most ear surgery is performed on children between ages four and fourteen.
Ear surgery is a highly individualized procedure that may be a good option if you or your child is bothered by prominent, overlarge, or misshapen ears.
Note: Success in ear surgery is greater if the patient is physically healthy and maintains a stable weight. Patients should have realistic expectations for their surgery and potential outcomes. Ear surgery is highly-specialized and cannot change the overall structure, appearance, or the natural symmetry of your face.
The Initial Consultation
The success of your ear surgery depends on the quality of your participation in the initial consultation at Birmingham Cohn Plastic Surgery. You will need to be prepared to discuss why you want ear surgery, your personal medical history, drug allergies, use of medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs, and any family history of disease.
Dr. Cohn or Dr. Anderson will perform a physical examination and take detailed measurements of your individual physical attributes. Photographs will be taken for your medical record. At that point, our doctors will be prepared to discuss your surgical options, recommend a course of treatment, and discuss the use of anesthesia during your otoplasty procedure. The consultation consists of a thorough discussion to get a sense of what an anticipated final appearance might look like. Our doctors are happy to assist with recommendations while using your personal goals to guide final decision making.
Preparing for Ear Surgery
Before ear surgery, Dr. Cohn and Dr. Anderson will discuss where your procedure will be performed – in our accredited, office-based surgical suite, outpatient / ambulatory surgical center, or in a hospital in Birmingham. Prior to your surgery, you may be asked to get lab testing or a medical evaluation, receive a prescription for certain medications or adjust your current medications, stop smoking, avoid taking anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding. Some special instructions you receive will cover what to do on the day of surgery and post-operative care and follow-up.
The Birmingham Otoplasty Procedure
Your ear surgery can be performed through a variety of incision patterns and techniques. The appropriate technique for your otoplasty will be determined during your initial consultation with our doctors.
The ear surgery begins with anesthesia, where intravenous sedation or general anesthesia will be provided. Our doctors will recommend the best choice for your surgery.
After the anesthesia has taken effect, incisions are made. Depending on your otoplasty choice, your incisions may include the following:
- A small incision in the back of the ear to expose the ear cartilage for access to sculpt the cartilage (reshaping).
- A small incision in the back of the ear, where stitches may be used to fold cartilage back and reshape the ear without the need to alter any existing cartilage.
- After the ear surgery procedure is complete, the closing procedures may include sutures, skin adhesives, and a bandage wrap.
Risks and Complications
The decision to have ear surgery is extremely personal and not without risk. Dr. Cohn and Dr. Anderson will fully review and explain the risks associated with your surgery. After you fully understand the procedure, you will be asked to sign consent forms.
As with any elective surgery, the cost of otoplasty surgery is a consideration for many patients. Cost may include a surgeon’s fee, hospital or surgical facility costs, anesthesia fees, prescriptions for medications, and any associated medical tests. Birmingham Cohn Plastic Surgery proudly offers patient financing plans, so be sure to ask if such a plan is of interest to you.
Although many factors are involved in your recovery time, you will likely experience an initial post-surgical recovery period for 24- 48 hours. You may also require a reduced-activity period of a few days. During recovery, you will likely experience soreness and swelling for a few weeks. Exercise and normal activity can resume at our doctor’s direction.
Following all of their post-surgery instructions is crucial to the success of your surgery. Surgical incisions should not be subjected to excessive force, abrasion, or motion during healing. Our doctors will give you specific instructions on how to care for your incisions following otoplasty, which medications to take, how to reduce the risk of infection, and when to make a follow-up appointment.