Otoplasty (Ear Surgery) Procedure
What you can expect to occur if and when you decide to undergo an otoplasty procedure
Ear pinning surgery, technically known as an otoplasty, is a minimally-invasive procedure we use at UF Health Plastic Surgery and Aesthetics Center to help those with prominent or irregularly-shaped ears. Children with these kinds of ears can be especially devastated through name calling and teasing. But adults also can suffer from low self-esteem and confidence, whether their ears were damaged in an accident or they’ve lived with it their entire lives. Fortunately, there are ways to address these issues through a surgical procedure known as an otoplasty.
Below, you will learn about this procedure step-by-step and what you can expect if you decide an otoplasty is required to adequately address issues with your ears. The procedure itself lasts about 2-3 hours with recovery taking about 2-4 weeks.
1. Consult with a board-certified otoplasty surgeon and establish a plan
The first thing before anything happens is for you to consult with a board-certified otoplasty surgeon and discuss your concerns. They will evaluate your particular situation, your general health and well-being and recommend a course of action. Surgeons will also discuss any risks involved and things you must do in order to minimize risks.
Beyond that, they will want to be entirely sure that you’re interested in the procedure for yourself and not to satisfy someone else’s wishes.
2. Administration of anesthesia
Most of the time, local sedation is used for this kind of procedure but if your particular situation warrants it, a general anesthesia will be used. DO NOT EAT BEFORE BEING ADMINISTERED ANESTHESIA. FOLLOW ALL INSTRUCTIONS.
Without anesthesia, there’s no way your body will know you haven’t been injured. It will immediately go into a defensive mode – increased heart rate, breathing and blood pressure are just a few of the effects. Not only does anesthesia eliminate your body’s natural reaction to injuries, it prevents you from even remembering the experience in some cases.
3. Cutting the incisions
Once the anesthesia takes effect, it’s time to make the incisions. For protruding ears, incision(s) aimed at creating or increasing your ears’ antihelical fold, or the inside rim of the ear, are used. Some patients also require incision(s) to reduce an enlarged conchal cartilage, or the largest and deepest concavity in your ear.
Incisions for an otoplasty are generally made on the rear of the ear but sometimes a front incision is required to fully address individual issues. If one is required, your surgeon will make incisions in the ear’s folds so they’re not visible to others.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
4. Rearranging cartilage and closing the incisions
After the required incisions are made, otoplasty surgeons will rearrange or remove cartilage and any other actions needed to address your particular situation. Once this is complete, surgeons will use sutures (stitches) to close the incision. Bandages will be applied to the surgical area to aid in the healing of your ears.
Once the anesthesia wears off and you remove any bandages, the effects of ear pinning surgery will be immediately apparent, especially if you’re having the procedure done to correct protruding ears. Some discomfort and pain following your surgery is normal. You’ll also likely experience some slight itching from the bandages.
Provided you are dealing with an experienced surgeon and you follow their explicit instruction, it’s likely you won’t experience any complications. But some of the complications that do arise (rarely) from ear pinning surgery include:
- Infection and poor wound healing
- Blood clots
- Skin swelling/discoloration
- Allergic reactions to tape, sutures, etc.
- Pain that persists beyond recovery
Remember, if you follow your surgeon’s instructions, the risk of running into complications is very low.