What is Otoplasty?
Otoplasty is the medical term for plastic surgery involving the outer ears. It is usually performed to reshape the outer ears for aesthetic purposes.
Otoplasty is a common procedure in both adults and children, and can be performed at any age once the ears have grown to their full size, usually after 5 years old. For children whose ear cartilage have not hardened, splinting may successfully rectify the issue without the need for surgery.
Otoplasty may be performed for a couple of reasons:
- Reduce prominent ears (“Bat ears”)
In general, our ears tend to be angled about 20 to 35 degrees from the side of our head. Ears angled more than 35 degrees tend to appear very prominent and unproportionate to the rest of the head/face. This condition, colloquially known as “bat ears”, is usually caused by cartilage of the ears folding incorrectly during prenatal or early childhood development. Hence, some individuals may want to undergo otoplasty to make their ears less prominent.
- Correct asymmetrical ears
Some individuals who have asymmetrical ears may wish to undergo otoplasty to correct the asymmetry and improve their general appearances.
- Construct/Reconstruct damaged outer ears
Individuals who have damaged outer ears either due to birth defects, injury or disease may wish to undergo otoplasty to reconstruct their outer ears. Skin, soft tissue and cartilage may be grafted from other parts of the body if required. otherwise, artificial implants made of plastic or medical grade silicone may also be used.
Otoplasty is also able to reverse enlarge ear holes from artificial piercings made in the past, which are now undesired.
Procedure of Otoplasty
The surgeon will usually make an elliptical incision at the back of the outer ear to perform otoplasty. From this incision, the cartilage in the outer ear will be sculpted and moulded into shape before the incision is finally closed.
To correct “bat ears”, the cartilage is pulled closer to the head and sutures are used to anchor the cartilage in place.
Ear holes, if any, are patched and covered using surrounding or grafted tissue as necessary.
The actual procedures may differ depending on the complexity of the case.
Otoplasty is usually an outpatient procedure and patients can return home immediately after.
Otoplasty is generally a safe procedure with minimal risks. Nevertheless, the following risks and complications are still possible:
- Asymmetrical ear placement
- Changes in skin sensation due to nerve damage
- Extrusion of stitches used for anchoring cartilage
- Overcorrection – ears become too flat on the side of the head
- Infection and inflammation
Most, if not all of these can be avoided with experience and good technique. Be sure to consult reputable, experienced and skilled plastic surgeon for your otoplasty to avoid these complications.
You will be required to wear a heavy compression bandage for up to 1 week to facilitate recovery. This will also help ensure the ears do not deform after the surgery. During this stage, the ears are expected to feel some throbbing sensation, which is perfectly normal.
After the first week, a lighter dressing will be used until the wound recovers sufficiently, which may take up to another week. You can typically resume sedentary work at this stage if you wish to
Strenuous activities should be avoided for at least 3 weeks, depending on your recovery.
Anyone in good general health who wishes to reduce their “bat ear” appearance, or otherwise alter the shape of their ears is suitable for otoplasty. Please book a consultation with our doctors to get their professional advice regarding this
Otoplasty on only one ear is possible, but strongly advised against as there is a high chance of asymmetric and unsatisfactory results if only one ear is operated on. It is highly recommended to operate on both ears to reduce this possibility and the need for a correction surgery.
Otoplasty is performed strictly on the outer ear, which will have no effect on hearing whatsoever.