Children and teenagers can be cruel to other children who look slightly different from what they may consider to be the norm. Even some adults may be harsh with their words when speaking to a child who has ears that protrude.

While the vast majority of plastic surgeries are not recommended for children or anyone under the age of 18, the otoplasty procedure is a bit different. This procedure can be performed on any patient who has fully grown ears.

What is the otoplasty procedure?

The otoplasty procedure is also called an ear pinning procedure. Ears that protrude are sculpted and bent closer to the head. A small incision is used to reshape the ear and move it into the desired position.

The exact technique that is used by the plastic surgeon will depend on the concerns being addressed and the cosmetic goals being pursued. The surgery is performed under general anaesthesia and typically takes 2 to 3 hours.

What makes a good candidate for this procedure?

According to Dr. Safvat, the procedure can resolve a number of outer ear concerns. A child who is in otherwise good health but has cosmetic concerns with his or her outer ears could be a good candidate for the procedure.

Some of the concerns that the procedure can address include the following.

  • Ears that are too large and detract from facial features
  • Wide and oddly-shaped earlobes
  • Ears that protrude out from the head
  • Uneven or asymmetrical ears
  • Odd shaped ears as the result of genetics or an accident

It’s important for children to have confidence in themselves at an early age. Misshapen or protruding ears can lead to many years of low self-esteem and even bullying in school. Otoplasty can give children and adults alike the confidence that they deserve.

What is the recovery like?

The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. Both adult and children patients will be up and walking within a few short hours of the surgery. A bulky bandage will be wrapped around the head after surgery, to promote the best in healing.

There may be some throbbing or discomfort in the ears for a few days after surgery. This can be managed by prescription pain relievers for the first days immediately following surgery. After that, the pain can typically be managed by over the counter pain relievers.

The bulky bandage will be replaced with a lighter dressing after a few days. It’s important to carefully follow the surgeon’s postoperative instructions when it comes to wearing the support dressings.

Stitches are typically removed or dissolved after a week. It’s important to avoid any activities that might result in the ear being bent, which could include sports activities. Children can generally return to school after a week of recovering at home.

Are there any potential risks or concerns related to the otoplasty?

Complications of the otoplasty are rare and are typically minor in nature. As with any surgical procedure, there is some potential for risks. Small blood clots on the ear may develop. If this does happen, it may require your surgeon to drain it if it doesn’t resolve on its own.

Infection is possible after any procedure. If an infection develops in the cartilage of the ear, it can cause the formation of scar tissue. Antibiotics can usually clear up any infection within a few days.