"Sometimes the biggest gift is to reshape the smallest ears"
Otoplasty is the name given to surgery for prominent ears. Prominent ears are a common condition, where the normal pattern of shaping and folding of the outer ear does not take place. Although hearing and the health of the ear are usually unaffected, the negative social and psychological attention that comes from prominent ears often requires early treatment.
For this reason, Dr. Szachowicz prefers to correct prominent ears when the growth of the outer ear is nearly complete, at ages four to six years. This allows for the earliest correction before the years at school. If your child has prominent ears, we can correct this condition with otoplasty at our Minneapolis-St. Paul-area practice.
Otoplasty is also frequently performed for adults, often allowing more flexibility with hair styles. Pinning back of the ear can be done in conjunction with a facelift. The procedure is performed from the backside of the ear, and requires that a dressing remain in place for one week after surgery.
Overall, this is a rewarding procedure. Dr. Szachowicz especially enjoys the opportunity to make a difference for the little ones among us. To learn more about ear reshaping surgery (AKA ear pinning surgery), contact our Edina office today.
Ear Reshaping Surgery (Otoplasty)
There is a normal variation in how far the outer ear protrudes from the head when measured at the middle one-third of the ear: between 17-20 mm (metric system). The human eye, even in children, can attend to any variation beyond normal, even only 4mm (~ 3/16th of an inch). This is why Dr. Szachowicz recommends that children with prominent ears have the otoplastic procedure before starting school, to avoid any ridicule.
Prominent ears result when the natural pattern of folding of the outer ear does not take place, and the protrusion is made worse if the “bowl” part of the ear also enlarges. Otoplasty is warranted whenever prominent ears are noticeable, usually after a measurement of 24 mm at the mid-pole of the outer ear (at the ear canal).
Whenever possible, video-imaging gives children a visual and concrete way to understand the goal of having their ears tucked back. Adults also appreciate the ability to see how otoplasty can restore balance and harmony to their facial shape. Facelift is a convenient time to adjust the position of the ears, as an incision is already planned for behind the ear.
Dr. Szachowicz prefers general anesthesia for children, and adults may elect sedation. The procedure is as follows:
- An incision is made behind the ear. If the “bowl” part of the ear is prominent, sutures are used to position the bowl of the ear to the back of the head.
- Natural folding of the ear is then created using sutures placed on the back surface of the ear to restore the contour and bring the ear closer to the head. One ear is completed, and then the other ear is matched to the first ear.
- Absorbable sutures are placed in the crease of the ear after any excess skin is removed. The new shape of the ear is maintained in a wrap-around head dressing for one week. Antibiotics are given to reduce the chance of infection, until the permanent sutures heal.
Risks of Otoplasty
The most common problem is some return of the protrusion. Any relapse is usually easily treated with an addition of another conforming suture. Infection and blood collecting near the wound are uncommon.
Learn More about Otoplasty
To learn more about otoplasty and to see video-imaging of possible results, contact Dr. Szachowicz's Edina, Minnesota office today. Serving the Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area, we can help you or a loved one feel more comfortable and confident.