The commonest indication for otoplasty is to correct excessive prominence of the ears. The condition is often a cause for teasing during childhood but it is not at all unusual for people to put off surgery until adulthood.
The operation can be offered to children over the age of seven in order to allow for the ear cartilage to complete the most important stage of its development which takes place in the first seven years of life and to ensure that the child will comply with the post-operative instructions and dressing requirements.
Surgery can be performed either under general or local anaesthetic. Most adults would opt for local anaesthetic as the procedure is very well tolerated and the patient can leave the hospital shortly afterwards (day case surgery).
Surgery is carried out through an incision on the back surface of the ear. The cartilage is scored in order to create a fold and reshape it. Dissolvable sutures are used to close the skin incision and a large padded bandage is applied in order to protect the wounds, support the ears in their new position and prevent bleeding and excessive swelling. Discomfort in the post-operative period is usually mild and can be managed with simple analgesia such as Paracetamol tablets.
The bandage needs to stay in place for approximately ten days and will be removed in the Dressing Clinic. At this stage if all is healing well no further dressings will be required. It is advisable to wear a soft headband in bed at night for the next six weeks at which point you will see me in the clinic for your review appointment.
Risks of the procedure include bleeding, infection (rarely) both of which can affect the quality of the healing and the scar. Scars behind the ear can occasionally become hypertrophic (thick, raised and itchy) or on rare occasions develop into keloid scarring. Problems with healing of the skin or the cartilage can occur if there is a haematoma (blood collection) or infection that are left untreated. In very rare occasions necrosis (death) of the skin can occur. Finally, asymmetric results or incomplete correction of the ear prominence may require a minor revision procedure if they are significant enough.