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A Surgical Solution for Oversized or Protruding Ears
Otoplasty is a surgical procedure to improve the size, shape, proportion or position of the ears. Also known as “ear pinning,” it is performed purely for cosmetic reasons. Dr. Mark H. Schwartz is a premier New York City board-certified plastic surgeon that has helped many individuals (including children and teenagers) feel more comfortable and confident with the appearance of their ears.
Candidates for Ear Surgery
Appropriate candidates for ear surgery may be self-conscious of any of the following:
- Oversized ears
- Very small ears
- Asymmetrical ears
- Ears that prominently protrude from the head
- A deformity in the ears or earlobes that affects their shape/position
- “Lop ear” – top of the ear folds downward/inward
- “Shell ear” – no outer curve in the cartilage
Children are common candidates for ear surgery. Dr. Schwartz believes the procedure can prevent peer ridicule. For young otoplasty candidates, Dr. Schwartz recommends waiting until the child’s ears have almost fully stopped developing (generally around age five). Other criteria for candidacy include good general health. Children should be able to demonstrate that they can listen and follow instructions.
Ear Surgery Details
Ear surgery is generally performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia. The patient is monitored by a board-certified anesthesiologist throughout surgery to ensure their safety and comfort.
Dr. Schwartz begins by making the surgical incisions either inside or on the back of the ear (where it connects to the head). Through the incisions, he removes excess cartilage/tissue that makes the ears protrude from the head or contributes to their size. Dr. Schwartz can also alter the existing cartilage to improve the ear’s size and proportion, or to create a more natural-looking shape.
When Dr. Schwartz is finished making the surgical modifications, he closes the incisions with sutures and wraps dressings around the ears.
Recovering from Ear Surgery
The ears may be swollen, bruised or tender immediately following surgery. These symptoms improve with time. To minimize any discomfort, the patient must keep their head elevated at all times (even while sleeping). Patients must also refrain from putting pressure on the ears or resting their head on the ears as they heal.
Dr. Schwartz recommends getting plenty of rest and relaxation during the recovery stage, with periodic short walks to promote good circulation. Bending, heavy lifting and vigorous activity must be avoided. Parents are encouraged to keep a close eye on their children that have had otoplasty. Dr. Schwartz follows up with his patients in person, and informs them of when it is safe to return to work, school, exercise and other normal activities. Ear surgery patients typically return to work or school after about a week.
Over time, a pierced earlobe can become stretched if a person frequently wears large or heavy earrings. In addition to creating a long or wide opening, earrings may tear completely through the lobe. A torn earlobe may also result from trauma, such as having an earring pulled off or caught on clothing.
Torn earlobes can be repaired with a quick in-office procedure performed under local anesthesia.
Torn earlobe surgery first involves “freshening” the edges of the torn lobe by removing a small amount of skin. Then, using fine sutures, the earlobe is meticulously repaired to reconstruct a normal, rounded earlobe that matches your natural ear shape.
You will be able to return home immediately after the procedure, with only a small bandage covering the stitches. The stitches will be removed after one to two weeks. When the earlobe has healed and the scar has softened, you may re-pierce the repaired earlobe. It takes about three months for the earlobe to fully heal.