Otoplasty is a corrective ear surgery performed by Dr. Edward Buckingham, an Austin facial plastic surgeon, in an outpatient surgical center.
Problems corrected by otoplasty include misshapen ears often created during fetal development, a rare condition known as macrotia (ears that grow too large).
This protrudes the ears that worsen a person’s self-esteem, or repair of damage from injuries or former ear surgeries.
The goal of any ear surgery is to create a natural-looking ear that is symmetrical with the rest of the facial features. This is done by altering the ear’s cartilage during surgery.
What Happens During Ear Surgery?
Otoplasty surgery typically takes about 90 minutes to complete, though the actual steps taken during surgery depend on the ultimate goal. Anesthesia is the very first step. In younger children, Dr. Buckingham prefers to use general anesthesia. For teens and adults, an oral sedative and local anesthesia is the preferred option.
For almost all surgeries, the incisions are made behind the ear, making scars easy to hide. Through this incision, the otoplasty surgeon reshapes different sections of cartilage to correct the issue at hand. Changes to the cartilage are secured with permanent internal sutures.
Once the proper ear shape is achieved and the cartilage is secured, the incision is closed with stitches. Bandages may be wrapped around the head to help hold the ears in place in the initial stages of healing.
What Are the Risks?
There are always risks associated with any surgery. Many of the risks you face come during the healing process and include prominent scars, infection, and wounds that do not heal as expected. There is also a risk of allergic reaction to the anesthesia, adhesives on bandages and medical tape, and materials in the sutures and/or topical solutions used before and after the surgery.
To reduce some of these risks, it is imperative to be honest with your facial plastic surgeon. If you know you have an allergy or sensitivity to latex bandages, let the doctor know. If you’ve had a past reaction to anesthesia, it is also important to share that information.
Is My Four-Year-Old Child Old Enough for the Surgery?
Dr. Buckingham discusses the possibility of otoplasty with both the child and his or her parents during a consultation. Generally, otoplasty is performed on children ages four and up. Its most commonly performed on children between the ages of 4 and 14, but it is possible to perform otoplasty on older teens and adults.
How Much Pain Will I Experience During the Healing Process?
While many plastic surgeries lead to minimal discomfort, pain is a common post-surgery complaint in otoplasty patients. The ears do ache and even throb painfully for a few days after the surgery. Dr. Buckingham offers prescription pain medications to keep you comfortable during this time.