For many adults and children, having large ears leads to ridicule, poor adaptation to school, and/or extreme self-consciousness. Otoplasty is a procedure used to reduce large or protruding ears by setting the ears back closer to the head as well as molding, shaping and/or removing cartilage.
This procedure can be performed at any age after the ears have reached (or nearly reached) their full size, which is around 5 to 6 years of age. This surgery is most often performed on children between the ages of 5 and 14. If you're considering otoplasty, the following information will provide you with a good introduction to the procedure. For more detailed information we recommend that you schedule a consultation with Dr. Kremer.
Frequently asked questions about Ear Correction (Otoplasty) by Dr. Michael A. Kremer:
Otoplasty can dramatically change a person's appearance simply by making protruding ears look more normal. Often the problem is caused by an undeveloped middle fold of the ear. There may be other deformities as well, making it necessary to perform several procedures on the ear at the same time. Otoplasty can reshape the ears, reduce their size, make them more symmetrical, and/or position them closer to the head.
If you (or your child) are self-conscious about your ears, and always keep them covered with your hair, then this surgery can open up new possibilities for changing your appearance and your body image.
During the consultation, you and Dr. Kremer will discuss the changes that you would like to make in your appearance. He will explain the different options available to you, the procedure itself, and its risks and limitations as well as the kind of anesthesia required.
Dr. Kremer will ask for your medical history and examine the structure of both ears. Even if only one ear needs correction, surgery may still be recommended on both ears to achieve the most natural, symmetrical appearance.
Trust, based on realistic expectations and exacting medical expertise, should develop during the initial consultation. A positive attitude toward the surgery is an important factor in all plastic surgery, but it is especially critical when the patient is a child or adolescent.
Be sure to ask all the questions you have about the surgery. Learning everything you can about your options, risks and benefits is the key to making an informed decision.
This procedure generally involves reforming the cartilages that shape the ears, to pull them in, and reduce the protrusion. Sutures are placed in the cartilage on the back side of the ear to maintain the new position. Incisions and the resulting scars are well concealed on the back of the ear, so that there is no visible scarring.
Surgery begins with an incision just behind the ear, in the natural fold where the ear is joined to the head. Dr. Kremer will then remove the necessary amounts of cartilage and skin required to achieve the right effect. In some cases, he will trim the cartilage, shaping it into a more desirable form and then pin the cartilage back with permanent sutures to secure the cartilage. In other instances, Dr. Kremer will not remove any cartilage at all, using stitches to hold the cartilage permanently in place.
Otoplasty generally takes about one hour per ear. The length of the procedure depends on the technique used and the amount of correction required.
Probably not. The procedure is usually performed in an outpatient surgery center. You'll be able to return home within a few hours of the surgery. This sugery can be performed under local anesthetic, although Dr. Kremer recommends general anesthesia for young patients or anxious patients in general.
No. Only the outer ear is operated on, not the middle or inner ear, where hearing takes place.
In most cases, no. The scars are hidden behind the ear. However, if you are prone to scarring problems such as keloids, you should discuss this with Dr. Kremer before the procedure.
You will need to wear a headband for a few weeks after surgery in order to protect the surgical repair. If you can wear this at work, then you can probably return to work quickly, but you will need to discuss this issue with Dr. Kremer.
Most normal activities can be resumed after about a week, but you will need to be very careful to protect your ears for at least 6 weeks, or possibly even longer. In order to make sure that there is no infection or bleeding in the ear after the surgery, you must be very careful to protect the ears and keep them clean. In addition, bending the ears forward in the first few months after the surgery can destroy even the finest surgical result, so be very careful to follow all of Dr. Kremer's instructions.
The results are usually permanent, although there is always some small amount of "springing back" of the ears due to the elastic recoil of the ear cartilage. For that reason Dr. Kremer will slightly overcorrect the ears during the procedure.
- In general good health.
- Child, aged five or older, or adult.
- No history of scarring problems, such as keloids.
- Wanting to improve appearance.
- Realistic in expectations.
- Understand the limitations on activities required for good healing.
The above is only a partial list of the criteria that Dr. Kremer will consider in determining whether or not this procedure is appropriate for you. Be sure to ask Dr. Kremer if he considers you (or your child) an ideal candidate for otoplasty.
All surgery carries some risk of scarring, bleeding, reaction to anesthesia and infection. The health risks from these are relatively minor in this surgery, but special care must be taken because infection or collection of blood under the skin can deform the ear cartilages. Rarely, a second procedure will be necessary, or one of the non-dissolving sutures left in the ear may work its way to the surface and will have to be removed under local anesthesia.