What does surgical correction (or “otoplasty”) entail?
Otoplasty broadly describes any surgical maneuver that recreates the valleys and folds of the ear. This can be done by removing excess skin or cartilage, by shaping the ear cartilage, or by a combination of both. The surgery is performed through a well-hidden incision behind the ear. Ear shaping surgery can be performed on a broad range of ages and is equally common in childhood as it is in adulthood. For pediatric patients, recontruction is typically performed around the age of kindergarten, since the ear is roughly 85% of its adult size at this point. When it comes to pediatric plastic surgery, our general governing approach is to optimize outcomes prior to the age that physical differences carry a social impact.
What to expect after surgery
The changes following surgery are immediately evident. However, a protective dressing is secured over the ears after surgery, and will be removed at the 1 week follow-up appointment. The ears are susceptible to swelling, and all ears appear very swollen and bruised in the initial two weeks after surgery. It is important to protect the ears from any trauma. For this reason, the protective dressing is reapplied at the first post-operative appointment for an additional week and then transitioned to 4 weeks of a soft headband at night while sleeping. Our surgeons ask that children refrain from physical activity for 2 weeks, and then avoid contact activities for an additional 4 weeks.