Your Ear Surgery Questions Answered

As a double board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in facial cosmetic surgery, the most common procedure I perform is the face lift (or, in many cases, my minimally invasive Band Aid Mini Facelift). But I also help patients with a number of other aesthetic concerns regarding not the age but the structure of the face. One such procedure is otoplasty, or cosmetic ear surgery.

your-ear-surgery-questions-answeredWhat issues can otoplasty improve?

Clearly, the goal of ear surgery is to improve the appearance of the ears, but this can take many forms. One of the most common concerns otoplasty patients have is that their ears are forward-facing or they appear to stick out too far from the sides of their head. Other frequent issues patients ask about include ears that are disproportionately large or small, asymmetrical, or positioned undesirably.

How does ear surgery work?

Your otoplasty procedure will be customized to meet your specific needs. However, for most patients, the surgery begins with an incision in the back of the ear, allowing me to access the cartilage—the firm but flexible tissue that gives your ear its shape. From this incision, I can reshape the cartilage and, in some cases, use internal sutures to give the ear a more aesthetic yet natural-looking form.

How long does it take to recover from otoplasty?

In general, most patients can return to work, school, and most of their other daily activities about one week after their cosmetic ear surgery. Within two weeks after the procedure, your results should be rather visible, although small changes can continue to appear for up to twelve months. Keep in mind that, especially during the first days and weeks after surgery, you will have very specific instructions to follow regarding activity restrictions, caring for your dressings and incisions, how to position your head, and more, so it’s important to have support at home from friends and/or family members who can help.

Am I a good candidate for ear surgery?

Because the ears reach near their full adult size at an early age, this procedure is one of the few which can be successfully and safely performed on children as well as adults. Most children’s ears have reached the necessary growth by around ages 4 to 6. However, remember that anatomy is only one aspect of determining whether a patient is ready for plastic surgery—they must also be able to understand the surgery and be willing to follow their post-surgical instructions, and in the case of a child, the parents need to be on this same page as well.

Will I have scars after otoplasty?

Any surgery will leave a scar—it’s simply part of the body’s natural healing process. But fortunately, most ear surgeries can be performed using a rather small incision which can be placed in the back of the ear, in an area where it will be primarily concealed within the natural folds of the ear.

Will ear surgery affect my hearing?

No—otoplasty is designed to be purely cosmetic, not to impact your hearing (other than the early days of your recovery when your bandages may interfere). If your goal is to improve your hearing ability, you should speak with an audiologist or other physician who specializes in this area.

Whether otoplasty is being performed for a child or an adult, it’s important to be sure you’re pursuing surgery for the right reasons: a genuine desire to address an aesthetic problem which is holding you back, not an expectation that if you look better, everything else in life will fall into place. To discuss whether ear surgery is the right choice for you or your child, schedule a consultation with me, Dr. John L LeRoy. Or, for more information and helpful plastic surgery tips, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.