Otoplasty, less commonly known as Pinnaplasty, is a corrective cosmetic surgery for ear reshaping. It is one of the less complex surgeries of its type and usually involves the resizing or reshaping of the ear. People usually undergo the surgical procedure if they are unhappy with the position of their ears and/or want to hold back protruding ears, or correct other abnormalities.
The construction of one’s ears contributes significantly to appearance, self-confidence and comfort. And even though the deformity may not emerge in the early years, it starts to surface as one grows. Prominent ears (also called flap-ears) can be discomforting for some people, and create social distress for others. Moreover, psychological anguish is commonly observed among patients with sticking-out ears, and otoplasty/pinnaplasty therefore proves effective in its purpose of reforming a key facial feature.
If you are considering an otoplasty, here is what to expect:
Background & Procedure:
The surgery is safe and simple. How? It is primarily incision-less and only reconstructs the ears without cutting into the skin. It seeks to fix the failure of cartilaginous folds (antihelix) forming within the ear. This is caused by an inherent defect of the auricle due to which the cartilage needs to be remodeled. It may also be that the edges of the ears are too small (in which case the remodeling becomes relatively difficult).
The surgery is generally an hour long carried out under general anesthesia (or local anesthesia– depending on patient needs/age and the surgeon’s general practice).
The elastic ear cartilage is divided as a hollow needle is inserted into the ear (the back of the auricle) and the cartilage is made more malleable by applying natural sutures. The ear is remolded by making stitches under the skin. The natural appearance is preserved as the elastic cartilage is merely repositioned to suit the face. Think of it as resetting the angle of the ear relative to the head. A bandage is applied to allow the cartilage to set in the new (corrected position). This normally takes between a week to ten days.
This plain sailing procedure prevents complications such as the formation of keloid scars and/or skin necrosis that can be caused by standard skin incisions. The post-surgery appearance is perfectly normal and with a little bit of post-surgical care, the scars can be healed completely.
However, post-surgery safety precautions are advised as the ‘corrections’ take their time to heal and settle in. In a sensitivity period of 1-2 weeks, a patient is generally required to be cautious, especially during the night. Special care must be taken to guard the ear from sudden impact or any other accidental damage.
Although a simple procedure, otoplasty does pose minor risks such as bleeding and skin necrosis in case of complications during surgery. Internal bruising, also called haematoma, can occur beneath the skin but can easily be washed out by removing some of the stitches.
In rare cases minor infections can be expected (as with any other surgery) and can be easily mitigated with the use of antibiotics (usually lasting a week). The incision/scar at the back of the ear may cause superficial discomfort and may be reduced with the use of topical creams (as prescribed by surgeon).
In addition, recurrence of the abnormality is only observed in rare cases (up to 5%) and it is safe to perform the surgery a second time.
The success of any cosmetic surgery depends entirely on the specific needs of the patient and his/her satisfaction after the correction. A successful otoplasty, thus, is one that will ensure an appreciable difference to a deformed/prominent ear and provide satisfying results to a patient, without bearing worrisome complications.