Otoplasty is done to set prominent ears back closer to the head or to reduce the size of large ears. The operation is usually performed on children between the ages of four and fourteen. However, adults may have this procedure as well and there are generally no additional risks associated with ear surgery on an older patient.
Otoplasty is usually performed as an outpatient procedure in a hospital or a doctor’s office-based surgical facility. If your child is young, your surgeon may recommend general anesthesia, so the child will sleep through the operation. For older children or adults, the surgeon may prefer to use local anesthesia, combined with a sedative. The surgery usually takes two to three hours.
Most commonly, Dr. Dufresne makes an incision in the back of the ear to expose the ear cartilage. He will then possibly sculpt or remove some cartilage and bend it back toward the head. Stitches may be used to help maintain the new shape.
The patient’s head will be wrapped in a bandage following surgery to promote the best molding and healing. The ears may ache at first, but this can be relieved by medication. Within a few days, the bandages will be replaced by a lighter head dressing similar to a headband. Stitches are removed, or will dissolve, in about a week. Any activity in which the ear might be bent should be avoided for a month or so. Adults can go back to work a few days after surgery. Children can go back to school after a week. The surgery will leave a faint scar in the back of the ear that will fade with time.
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