There are many psychologically negative aspects to possessing misshapen or damaged ears. Noticing the stares and being subject to teasing (especially amongst younger individuals) can make positive social interactions a difficult proposition.
Children who attend school are especially subject to bullying or teasing by the other children because of any perceived deformity or difference from the other kids. This can lead to a low level of self-esteem that can even affect academic performance and, in some cases, personality disorders. Fortunately, this scenario can be addressed with otoplasty and following surgery, those around the individual can focus on the actual person, instead of on the deformity.
Types of Ear Surgery:
Ear surgery can take many forms – depending on the particular issue that needs to be addressed. All forms of ear deformities can be addressed and it’s important to discuss the particular procedure with your surgeon as each case may have its’ own unique qualities.
The ideal candidate is the patient who wants to improve or correct issues with the size or shape of the ear. These issues can include; oversized ears, large creases in the earlobes, a fold at the top of the ear, oversized earlobes, undersized ear or missing natural folds or creases.
The initial consultation is an essential part of the surgical process. A potential patient should understand the realistic expectations for the surgical outcome and should discuss, at length with their doctor, the details of the recommended procedure.
Children provide a greater opportunity for more pronounced results, due to cartilage flexibility, than do adults. However the child must have ears that are nearly full grown (between 4-6 years of age).
The discussion for anesthesia is, of course, made during the initial consultation. Depending on the age or disposition of the patient, either a local or a general anesthesia will be used. General anesthesia will allow the patient to sleep through the surgery while a local anesthesia, while numbing pain, will allow the patient to remain awake during the surgery. Once the anesthesia takes effect, the surgery will proceed (the area to be operated on having already been cleansed and prepped).
As mentioned before, there are different types of procedures that depend on the issue(s) to be addressed. A common technique involves the surgeon making an incision in the back of the ear and exposing the cartilage. The cartilage can then be sculpted and bent back towards the head. Sutures (stitches) can be used to hold the new shape while closing the incision. In some cases, a more sizable piece of cartilage can be removed. This will give a more natural looking fold upon completion of the surgery.
A different type of procedure may involve a similar back of the ear incision. But in this case, a piece of skin is removed and sutures are put into place in order to fold cartilage back onto itself. This reshapes the ear with no cartilage removal. In general, an ear surgery procedure takes about 2-3 hours, depending on the problem being addressed.
Even if the protrusion is limited to one ear, for example, usually the surgery is performed on both ears. This is to create more balance between the two ears. Realistic expectations should have been discussed with the surgeon so that the patient understands that the goal of this type of surgery is improvement – not perfection. Obtaining perfectly matched ears is unlikely with otoplasty procedures.
An otoplasty surgery patient can expect a light scar, behind the ear, that will eventually fade. Patients are usually discharged shortly after surgery (a few hours). A bandage will be applied to the head just after surgery, as well, for purposed of site protection and additional molding.
There will be some expected discomfort which the doctor will manage with prescribed medication. There will be a follow up visit made a week later to remove stitches and activity will be limited in order to protect the ear. Return to work, for adults is typical around 5 days after the procedure and children can return to classes in a week.
Risks Associated With Ear Surgery:
Ear surgery risks are rare but they do exist. Standard surgical infection risks are present and can be treated with antibiotics. Occasionally, a blood clot may develop which can be lanced with a needle – or it may just dissolve naturally.
However, your doctor should be notified if this occurs. Overcorrection of the procedure, loosening of sutures or slight hearing losses are also possible, however, these can be repaired by your surgeon.
Ear surgery (otoplasty) costs range between $2,000 and $5,000. In addition to this, there may be additional fees which include pre-operative and post-operative medication and care. Most surgeons, however, offer financing options and various payment plans to assist you with the cost of otoplasty. You should also consult with your medical insurance provider to see if they will cover the cost of your procedure.
10 Things to Discuss with Your Surgeon During Your Consultation:
1. Are my expectations for the surgery outcome realistic?
2. How many similar surgeries has the surgeon performed?
3. What are the details of the procedure(s) that would be performed in my case?
4. Are there numerous before and after pictures that can be viewed?
5. What recovery issues can I expect?
6. What are the risks involved with this type of surgery?
7. What is the policy for repair or repeating the procedure should the results not be acceptable?
8. What percentage of this practice’s patients experience complications?
9. Where will the procedure be performed and is the facility accredited?
10. What is the recommendation for anesthesia for this procedure and why?