Otoplasty (Ear Surgery) in Albany
Also Serving Saratoga Springs, Schenectady and Troy
Ear reshaping surgery, or otoplasty, is commonly performed to set prominent ears closer to the head or to reduce the size of large ears. Children with prominent ears are most at-risk for being ridiculed for this condition. A child’s ears are almost fully developed by age six and are easily the most visible feature on their small face. As a result, they commonly stick out in a manner that draws the attention of others. If the child’s ears are causing him/her problems, this surgery can be performed as early as age six; however it is more often performed on adolescents and adults.
View our Otoplasty Patient before & after Gallery.
The Ear Reshaping Procedure
Albany plastic surgeon Dr. Bruce Barach makes a small incision in the back of the ear to expose the ear cartilage. He will then sculpt the cartilage and bend it back toward the head. Non-removable stitches may be used to help maintain the new shape. Occasionally, he will remove a piece of cartilage to provide a more natural-looking fold when the surgery is complete.
The procedure usually takes about two to three hours, depending on the extent of the condition and which surgical technique is necessary. The head will be wrapped for about one week after the surgery, and Dr. Barach will recommend wearing a stocking cap or ski band to bed for several weeks.
If your child is young, Dr. Barach may recommend general anesthesia to ensure that your child will sleep through the operation. For older children or adults, he may prefer to use local anesthesia combined with a sedative. In this case, you or your child will be awake but relaxed, and the procedure is done in our office surgery suite.
Following surgery, Dr. Barach will provide detailed instructions regarding your otoplasty after-care. It is important to follow these instructions very carefully to ensure proper healing.
Torn earlobes occur after an earring is suddenly or gradually ripped through the bottom of your pierced earlobe. Your split earlobe can be repaired, once your rip has healed, by suturing together the exposed edges. Once your ear has healed, it can be re-pierced.
You can expect to be up and around within a few hours after your otoplasty procedure. Your head will be wrapped in a bulky bandage immediately following surgery to promote the best molding and healing. You will likely feel very little pain at all, but your ears may throb or ache a little for a few days. This can be easily relieved with medication.
Dr. Barach will replace the bulky bandages within a few days with a lighter head dressing similar to a headband. Be sure to follow his directions for wearing this dressing, especially at night. It may be suggested that you wear a stocking cap, a sweat band, or a ski headband while sleeping for up to several weeks, depending on the extent of your procedure.
Stitches are typically removed or will dissolve on their own in about 5-10 days.
Any activity in which the ear might be bent or hit should be avoided for approximately one month. Most adults can go back to work about five days after surgery. Children can go back to school after about one week; however, they will have to be careful when participating in playground activities. You may want to ask your child’s teacher to keep an eye on him or her for a few weeks.
Post-surgical complications are rare with otoplasty. Impaired hearing is practically impossible since only your external ear parts are manipulated during your surgery. Your ear tissue heals very well, and your scars are placed in a region where they will be almost undetectable.
There will always be some asymmetry between the two ears. However, this is quite normal, since no one has perfectly symmetrical ears.
How should I prepare for otoplasty?
Dr. Barach provides complete pre-op instructions, which include refraining from certain medications (e.g., aspirin, ibuprofen and other blood-thinning medications) for 10 to 14 days before surgery. He can also advise whether any blood work or other testing is needed prior to surgery, and whether any other precautions should be taken in the days and weeks leading up to surgery.
Is otoplasty safe for children?
Otoplasty can safely be performed on children as young as 6 years old. Dr. Barach recommends postponing surgery until the child’s ear development has stabilized and the child understands why he is she is undergoing surgery. It is also important that the child can follow Dr. Barach’s instructions.
Does otoplasty require an overnight hospital stay?
No, otoplasty is an outpatient procedure. You or your child will be monitored for a short time after surgery and then released to recover at home.
Does otoplasty leave a scar?
In most cases, the surgery will leave a faint scar in the back of the ear that will fade in time.
Does otoplasty affect hearing?
No, surgery does not affect hearing.
What are the risks of otoplasty?
Potential otoplasty risks include the following:
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Poor wound healing
- Temporary or permanent changes in skin sensation
Working with a board-certified plastic surgeon like Dr. Barach minimizes the likelihood of experiencing a complication during or after otoplasty.
When can I see the results?
You can see an immediate improvement in the size/shape of the ears as soon as the bandages are removed during recovery. These improvements are considered permanent.
Please contact our Albany plastic surgeon today to schedule your initial otoplasty consultation.