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All you need to know about otoplasty

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Otoplasty, or ear correction, was the tenth most popular surgical procedure with British men and women in 2014, according to figures from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS). Why is it so popular, though? And what does it involve?

Here’s all you need to know about otoplasty.

Why do people undergo otoplasty procedures?

Not many people pay attention to what their ears – or those of others – look like, unless there’s something unusual about their appearance. Prominent ears that stick out more than the average persons’ can cause anxiety in some people, especially during their younger years. Children with prominent ears are often bullied, which can make them feel insecure. Otoplasty is a fairly simple procedure and can help eradicate these problems.

Some parents choose to get their children’s ears corrected once they have grown full size (usually around age five). However, you can undergo the procedure at almost any age.

It’s worth noting that the visible outer part of the ear, also known as the pinna, has little impact on your hearing; its main function is aesthetic. Otoplasty is therefore highly unlikely to cause any serious or permanent damage to your hearing should the surgery not go quite to plan.

What causes prominent ear?

Prominent ear is a problem that begins at birth. When your ear is developing, the cartilage should bend backwards towards your head, but in a small number of cases this does not happen, so the ear protrudes outwards. For others, their ears have begun to stick out following an accident or injury.

What does the pinnaplasty procedure involve?

As the curvature of the ear needs to be restored, the procedure involves surgically removing skin and applying sutures to bend the cartilage. If there is too much cartilage, which is often the case, this will be removed via a small incision made behind the ear. The location of this incision means it is completely hidden. Moreover, the skin behind the ear heals well, so even if you went looking for a scar, you are unlikely to see one.

The procedure is performed under local anaesthetic, and only takes between one and two hours in total.

Aftercare

Your ears will need to be bandaged for several days following surgery, and you will not be able to wash your hair during this period. After the bandages are removed, you’ll have to wear a loose headband at night that sits over your ears. This will support them and ensure that they’re not being put under any pressure or tugged about during the night.

You should also avoid taking part in contact sports, such as rugby, football and judo, for at least three months after the surgery, and for eight weeks you’ll need to give up swimming.

The wait is worth it though, as once you’re healed that’s it – the procedure is permanent.

Possible complications

Although it is unlikely that anything will go wrong, it’s important to be clued up about any possible complications you may encounter.

As with all surgeries, infection is possible, but rare. This is easily treatable with a course of antibiotics. In some cases, a blood clot can form under the skin’s ear, which causes the pinna to become painful, swell up and bleed from the wound. Again, this is not difficult to treat, but your bandages will need to be removed.

Following the surgery you may also notice that your ears do not appear entirely asymmetric. We do as much as we can to ensure your ears match up, but perfect symmetry is not always possible.

Hopefully the above information has helped you decide if otoplasty is the right procedure for you. If you’d like to know more, or want to book a free consultation, please do not hesitate to contact us.