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Ear Surgery or Otoplasty

More Naturally Shaped and Proportioned Ears with Cosmetic Surgery

Ears that are overly large or "stick out" from the sides of the head can have a detrimental effect on the self-esteem of both children and adults. People may also have ears with deformities in shape caused by injuries or birth defects. Any of these problems can cause an undesirable imbalance of the facial features and have a profound effect on a person's appearance and self-confidence.

These conditions can be addressed with Ear Surgery, also known as Otoplasty or Ear Pinning. Ear surgery creates ears that have a more natural shape while bringing balance and proportion to the ears and face. While people of any age can be candidates for otoplasty, surgery to improve the shape, position or proportions of the ears is often pursued during childhood.

Ear surgery at Hedden & Gunn Plastic Surgery in Birmingham, Alabama can be performed with minimal downtime at our plastic surgery center. Otoplasty has a satisfaction rate among the highest of all cosmetic surgery procedures.

Ear Surgery Candidates

Children who are good candidates for ear surgery are:

  • Healthy children who do not have a life-threatening illness or untreated chronic ear infections.
  • Generally 5 years old or when the ear cartilage is stable enough for correction.
  • Cooperative and follow instructions well.
  • Able to communicate their feelings and do not voice objections when surgery is discussed.

Teenagers and adults who are good candidates for ear surgery are:

  • Healthy people who do not have a life-threatening illness or medical conditions that can impair healing.
  • Non-smokers.
  • People with a positive outlook and specific goals for ear surgery.

Your Ear Surgery Consultation

Ear closeup

By choosing a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) for your ear surgery procedure, you can be assured that you are choosing a highly-trained, board-certified plastic surgeon. ASPS Member Surgeons must meet rigorous standards for training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery.

The success and safety of your ear surgery depends very much on your complete candidness during your consultation. You will be asked a number of questions about your health, desires and lifestyle. Be prepared to discuss:

  • Why you want the procedure, your expectations and desired outcome.
  • Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments.
  • Use of current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
  • Previous surgeries.

Your ear surgery surgeon may also:

  • Evaluate your general health and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors.
  • Take photographs for your medical record.
  • Discuss your options and recommend a course of treatment.
  • Discuss the likely outcomes of ear surgery and any risks or potential complications.

It is very important to ask questions at your consultation about your ear surgery procedure. It's natural to feel some anxiety, whether preoperative stress or excitement about your anticipated new look. Don't be shy about discussing these feelings with your plastic surgeon.

Ear Surgery Risks and Safety Information

The decision to have ear surgery is extremely personal. You will have to decide if the bene?ts of ear surgery will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications are acceptable. Your plastic surgeon and/or staff will explain the associated risks in detail.

The risks of ear surgery include:

  • Bleeding (hematoma).
  • Blood clots.
  • Asymmetry.
  • Infection.
  • Poor wound healing.
  • Change in skin sensation.
  • Skin contour irregularities.
  • Skin discoloration/swelling.
  • Anesthesia risks.
  • Unfavorable scarring.
  • Allergies to tape, suture materials, glues, blood products, topical preparations or injected agents.
  • Pain, which may persist.
  • Possibility of revisional surgery.

You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure, the alternatives and the most likely risks and potential complications.

Preparing for Ear Surgery

Prior to ear surgery, you may be asked to:

  • Get lab testing or a medical evaluation.
  • Take certain medications or adjust your current medications.
  • Stop smoking well in advance of surgery.
  • Avoid taking aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements, as they can increase bleeding.

You will receive special instructions that cover:

  • What to do on the day of surgery.
  • The use of anesthesia during your procedure.
  • Post-operative care and follow-up.

Ear surgery may be performed in an accredited office-based surgical facility, ambulatory surgical facility or hospital. If performed as an outpatient procedure, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery and stay with you for at least the ?rst night.

Ear Surgery Procedure

Correction of protruding ears uses surgical techniques to create or increase the antihelical fold (just inside the rim of the ear) and to reduce enlarged conchal cartilage (the largest and deepest concavity of the external ear).

Anesthesia choices for ear surgery include local, intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.

Ear Surgery Incisions

Incisions for otoplasty are generally made on the back surface of the ear. When incisions are necessary on the front of the ear, they are made within its folds to hide them. Internal, non-removable sutures are used to create and secure the newly-shaped cartilage in place.

Diagram showing the parts of the ear
Ear anatomy

The incision is closed with external stitches. Techniques are individualized, taking care not to distort other structures and to avoid an unnatural "pinned back" appearance.

Diagram showing ear surgery incision location
Ear Surgery incision

Ear Surgery Recovery

Your doctor will give you speci?c instructions on how to care for yourself. Following your plastic surgeon's instructions is key to the success of your ear surgery. These instructions may include:

  • How to take care of your ears following surgery.
  • Medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection.
  • When to follow-up with your plastic surgeon.

After surgery, bandages or dressings will be applied to keep your surgical site clean, protect it from trauma and support the new position of the ear during initial healing.

Discomfort immediately following ear surgery is normal and can be controlled with pain medication. There may be an itchy feeling under bandages. It is essential that bandages remain intact and are not removed for any reason. Failure to do so may result in loss of some of the correction and may require a secondary surgery.

Notify your plastic surgeon if any complications occur after you go home. Your surgeon will determine if any additional treatment is needed.

It's important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, abrasion or motion during the time of healing.

Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon speci?c questions about what you can expect during your ear surgery recovery period.

  • Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
  • What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
  • Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery, and when will they be removed?
  • Are stitches removed, and when?
  • When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
  • When do I return for follow-up care?

Ear Surgery Results

Ear surgery before and after

Ear surgery offers almost immediate results for protruding ears. Results are visible once the dressings that support the new shape of the ear during the initial phases of healing are removed.

The results of more extensive ear surgery and reconstruction may appear in stages over time.

With the ear permanently positioned closer to the head, surgical scars are either hidden behind the ear or well-hidden within the natural creases of the ear.

The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee. In some situations it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single procedure and another surgery may be necessary.

Ear Surgery Words to Know

  • Antihelical fold: A fold just inside the rim of the ear.
  • Conchal cartilage: The largest and deepest concavity of the external ear.
  • Constricted ear: Also called a lop or cup ear, has varying degrees of protrusion, reduced ear circumference, folding or ?attening of the upper helical rim, and lowered ear position.
  • Cryptotia: Also called hidden ear, occurs when the upper rim of the ear is buried beneath a fold of scalp secondary to abnormal folding of the upper ear cartilage toward the head. The folding is the reverse of that commonly seen in the protruding ear.
  • Ear axis: The main line of ear growth.
  • General anesthesia: Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.
  • Intravenous sedation: Sedatives administered by injection to help you relax.
  • Macrotia: Overly large ears, a rare condition.
  • Microtia: The most complex congenital ear deformity when the outer ear appears as either a sausage-shaped structure resembling little more than the earlobe or has more recognizable parts of the concha and tragus or other normal ear features. It may or may not be missing the external auditory or hearing canal. Hearing is impaired to varying degrees.
  • Otoplasty: Also known as ear surgery, a surgical procedure to improve the shape, position or proportions of the ear.
  • Stahl's ear: An ear that is distorted in shape due to an abnormal fold of cartilage.

Procedure Information © American Society of Plastic Surgeons

Hedden and Gunn Plastic Surgery

Ear Surgery or Otoplasty improves the shape, position or proportions of the ears to bring better balance to the facial features of children and adults.

Birmingham, AL Office & Surgery Suites

Hedden & Gunn Plastic Surgery
140 Village Street
Birmingham, AL 35242
205-980-1744 or 800-HeddenMD
American Society of Plastic Surgeons* American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery*
* Dr. William Hedden, Dr. Stephen Gunn
Hedden and Gunn Plastic Surgery

Contact Us Today

Questions About Facial Rejuvenation?

Contact our Alabama cosmetic surgeons today to find out more about Ear Surgery or Otoplasty at Hedden & Gunn Plastic Surgery in Birmingham.

To schedule your consultation at the earliest possible date, please call 205-980-1744.

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