Otoplasty, or ear pinning, as it is more commonly known, is a surgical procedure designed to set prominent ears back closer to the head, or to reduce the size of large ears.
Most people are thrilled with the result of Otoplasty. Children can be cruel to their peers. Otoplasty can protect you or your child from teasing and poor self image which may occur as a result of this teasing. It is minimally invasive Surgery, of short duration with rapid recovery rate and very rewarding results.
This Surgery is most commonly performed on children between the ages of four and fourteen, however can be performed on adults just as effectively. Ears are almost fully grown by the age of 14, and the earlier that the Surgery is performed, the less teasing your child may have to endure.
If performed for medical reasons, Otoplasty can attract Medicare rebates and a percentage of your Doctor’s, Anaesthetist and Hospital fees may be claimed from both Medicare and your Private Health Fund, if you have private health cover. You will require a referral from your General Practitioner if you wish to claim these rebates.
At your initial consultation you or your child’s ears will be assessed and your surgeon will be able to determine whether the procedure is suitable for you and the outcome favourable. Each case is different, and in many cases, ear shape varies from left to right.
Be frank in your discussion with your Doctor, remembering to mention any medications that you or your child are taking and whether or not you are a smoker. You may require a second or even third consultation with your Surgeon to enable you to fully understand this procedure, the risks associated with it and your expectations from the surgery. There is no fee for subsequent consultations with your surgeon.
Otoplasty can be performed under Local Anaesthetic in our Rooms or as Day surgery or Inpatient Procedure in a Hospital. We recommend a General Anaesthetic for young children undergoing this surgery as it is less traumatic for the child in the long term. The surgery itself takes from one to two hours, although complicated procedures take longer.
In the most common technique, a small incision is made at the back of the ear, exposing the cartilage in the ear. This cartilage is then sculpted and bent back towards the head. The skin is tightened and resutured in place, a dressing is applied and a firm bandage is applied around the head to hold the ears in their new position.
Surgical correction of other ear deformities such as ‘lop ear’ or ‘shell ear’, or for reduction of large or unequal ears is also possible, addressing cartilage or skin as required. Ear Reconstruction can also be undertaken for those who were born without them or to replace those lost in an accident. Your Surgeon can explain these individual procedures at your consultation with him.
All surgery carries some risk and uncertainty. It is impossible to predict every outcome because everyone is different.
Complications in the short term include infection which is treated with antibiotics, haematoma or a collection of fluid near the sutures which is best managed with continued bandaging and ice packs, and pain and discomfort which can be managed by adequate medication.
Long term complications include asymmetry, visible and thick scarring, further deformity and need for re-operation to correct this deformity. Rarely, infection can spread to the ear cartilage, which can cause scar tissue to form. These and any other complications specific to this surgery will be discussed during your consultation with your Surgeon. Be sure that you understand your surgery and any risks associated with this surgery, before proceeding.
Adults and children are up and about on the same day as Otoplasty surgery. Most adults can return to work after forty eight hours, however you may prefer to wait until after the bandages have been removed during the day at ten to twelve days. Children can return to school after about a week, if they are careful about playground activities. Any activity where the ear may be bent should be avoided for a month or so.
In most cases, Otoplasty will leave a faint scar behind the ear which will fade with time and which can easily be disguised through hairstyles.