Otoplasty and Ear Pinning Procedures
Otoplasty, or cosmetic ear surgery, is a very common facial plastic surgery procedure. The procedure is performed to correct protruding ears, which may first become apparent in the first few years of life. In fact, psychologists have found that the physical appearance of the ears can have a strong impact on the psychological development of children. Occasionally, children may develop only one protruding ear or a floppy ear, commonly called "lop ear." The procedure can be first performed at five or six years of age. Adults also commonly undergo the otoplasty operation to correct protruding ears, asymmetries, or ear trauma.
Because there is little room for error in otoplasty, both careful preoperative physical analysis and meticulous surgical execution are imperative for a successful outcome. In general, however, the benefits are much greater than the risks for these procedures. Both the surgeon and the patient universally find the results rewarding. The goal in otoplasty surgery is to achieve symmetry between both ears.
Is the Otoplasty Surgery for you?
About half of the patients that undergo otoplasty operation are children. Parents are many times confused about the timing of otoplasty surgery in children. Ideally, the surgery should be performed between ages five and six. At this age, the ear is fully developed and the child is about to start school. This is important because it during this time that the child begins to develop self-esteem. It is also the age at which he may be teased at school. Dr. Bustillo recommends treatment at this age to promote the development of a healthy self esteem during the early years. Adults also commonly undergo otoplasty surgery.
Understanding the Surgery
Dr. Bustillo performs the otoplasty surgery on an outpatient basis at the South Miami Medical Arts Surgery Center, located in South Miami. The center is part of the Baptist Health System and is outfitted with the newest surgical technology. All surgeries are staffed by board certified anesthesiologists, which are part of the South Miami Hospital Anesthesiology Department.
Dr. Bustillo requires that all patients undergoing the otoplasty operation have a medical examination and medical clearance before the surgery by their primary care physician. All aspirin, anti-inflammatory products (naproxen, ibuprofen), and vitamins such as A, ginko biloba, and St. John's wart should be discontinued ten days before surgery because they may interfere with blood clotting and cause bruising. Alcohol should also be avoided for five days before surgery to avoid swelling. Dr. Bustillo starts patients on high dose vitamin C two weeks before and two weeks after to help with the healing and to reduce bruising.
Dr. Bustillo performs the otoplasty operation with IV sedation. If the otoplasty surgery is being combined with another facial procedure, then general anesthesia may used. Dr. Bustillo will help you decide which option is best for you.
The ear can protrude from the face and skull for two different reasons. Occasionally, they are both found together. One reason may be that a curvature found in the ear may not be present. This curvature, or anti-helix, as it is called, can be recreated using internal sutures. These will create the fold needed to bring the ear back towards the head. The other reason ears may protrude is that they may have a very broad bowl. If this is the case, then the bowl of the ear may be shaped to help bring back the ear to the head. As mentioned before, occasionally both of these procedures are combined in an otoplasty to give the ears a natural look.
The surgery can take about one hour. The patient should have a caretaker with them for about two days after surgery. This person does not need to be a medical professional and can be a family member or friend. This person will help with feeding, ambulating, and other chores. If the patient wishes, Dr. Bustillo's office can help coordinate a home service to help you with these activities.
What to expect after the surgery
The night of the surgery should be spent relaxed. Activity should be kept to a minimum. A liquid diet is best for the first eighteen hours after anesthesia. The head should be kept elevated using two pillows to help reduce swelling.
The otoplasty operation is not painful. Tylenol is usually enough to control any minor discomfort. Dr. Bustillo will provide you with additional pain medication, in the event that you need it. Any significant pain should be reported to Dr. Bustillo immediately, as this may signal bleeding under the skin. This is extremely rare, but possible.
On the first post-operative day, Dr. Bustillo will remove the bandaged placed at surgery. A Velcro elastic bandage will then be placed to help the ears heal appropriately. Patients should wear it for seven days and then at night only for two weeks.
It is recommended that physical activity, such as running or lifting be resumed only after the fourth week. The results of the otoplasty are apparent immediately and will last a lifetime. Most patients who undergo otoplasty surgery are extremely happy with the results.
What is otoplasty?
Otoplasty, also known as cosmetic ear surgery, is a plastic surgery procedure that corrects and improves the shape and position of the ear. Ears that protrude are placed back in a more natural position. The shape can also be improved so that the ear appears more natural.
Who is the best candidate for the procedure?
Good candidates for otoplasty include individuals who are physically healthy, realistic in their expectations, and interested in improving the appearance of their protruding ears. The procedure is often performed on children between the ages of five and fourteen. Otoplasty also often performed on adults.
Are there any age restrictions for who can undergo surgery?
Dr. Bustillo performs the otoplasty procedure on children beginning at age five. The reason for performing the procedure at age five is two-fold. One, the children's ears have developed by this age. Two, the children enter grade school at this age and may be teased or picked on. Having the surgery before entering grade school will avoid this situation. Dr. Bustillo also performs the procedure on healthy adults that have protruding ears.
What happens during a consultation for otoplasty?
Dr. Bustillo will personally meet with you during the consultation. He will examine and evaluate you. He will then show you before and after pictures and then explain the surgical procedure from beginning to end. This explanation will include what surgical technique he will use, where the surgery will be performed, what type of anesthesia, and a step-by-step explanation of what the recovery will be like. You will then meet with the patient care coordinator, who will explain the scheduling details and the cost.