All of us want to look our best, practically all the time. We spend huge amounts of money on clothes, makeup, accessories etc. But still many people do not feel happy or satisfied with the way they look. Each and everyone is on the lookout for perfection. Modern medicine has made it possible to achieve perfection as far as beauty is concerned. Now, everybody can look almost exactly the way they want to. Plastic and cosmetic surgical procedures can modify, restore and repair any deformity or imperfection that one has. Various procedures that are available currently can address specifically different body parts. For example, Rhinoplasty is the cosmetic surgery to modify the shape and size of the nose whereas the surgery which is done to improve the appearance of the abdominal area is known as Abdominoplasty. Otoplasty is the procedure which is done to improve the appearance of ears. Otoplasty is surgery which is done to reshape the ears if they are deformed or is done just to improve their appearance. In other words, it can be done for either reconstruction or for cosmetic purpose.
Some people feel extremely self conscious if their ears protrude out from their head too much. Although, generally protruding ears have no adverse effect on hearing capability, such ears can cause a lot of embarrassment to a person. Also, in certain cases, ears get deformed due to some birth defect or due to some type of trauma. Otoplasty is also done in such cases.
Generally, otoplasty can be done any time after 5 years of age since till that time the ears are not believed to be completely developed. It generally restores symmetry on both sides of the ears.
Why do ears protrude in some people?
If the pinna or the outer ear is overdeveloped and has excessive cartilage it is highly likely to protrude out. Normally, the ears make an angle of about 20-35 degrees with the head. However, if the angles exceed 35 degrees the ears protrude out more than normal. Sometimes newborns have protruding ears which is considered normal because generally the ears get self corrected. If this does not happen otoplasty may have to be performed. If the cartilage remains underdeveloped the outer edge of the ears does not fold complexly towards the head causing them to protrude outwards.
How are the protruding ears corrected?
A relatively simple and safe surgery known as ear splinting can be performed on newborns as young as six months. In this surgery, the surgeon reshapes the soft cartilage of ear with a splint. This splint supports the ear and keeps it in its position. After 6 months of age in newborns the cartilage cannot be remodeled because it becomes too hard. Surgery remains the only option in older children. The more complicated repairs, restoration and restructuring are carried out by otoplasty. Otoplasty can also reconstruct a missing pinna. In most cases the otoplasty is done after five years of age because by the age of five the ears become fully developed.
Types of otoplasty
The three different types of otoplasty are: –
The surgery is done under general anesthesia and does not take too long. Generally, the procedure takes only about one- two hours. The incision is made behind the ear therefore the residual scar is hardly noticeable. Eventually, the scar should fade away on its own. The surgery is performed by plastic surgeons or ENT surgeons.
Recovery after the surgery: –
Post the surgery the ears are covered with bandages which have to be changed after every few days. The patients are advised to not wash their hair while the bandages are in place to avoid infection. Once the bandages are removed, a loose band is put over the ears to keep the ears from losing their shape, soon after the surgery. Patients can resume their normal daily activities within two-three weeks after the surgery. Swimming is strictly prohibited for around two months after the surgery and any sports activity that can cause damage to the ears should be also be avoided.
Stiffness and bruising may be present after the surgery. Both of these are resolved within a few weeks.
In some very rare cases, revision surgery may be required. Some rare complications may include inflammation of the incision site, bleeding, infection and complication of the stitches. In some cases, the protrusion of the ear may recur which may necessitate additional surgery.