Ear abnormalities can lead to childhood teasing. This can lead to long-term psychological, social and emotional stress for children. Kids with ear differences may become self-conscious and ashamed. For these children, a plastic surgeon can repair their ear abnormality, allowing them to regain self-esteem and heal insecurities. Let’s look at otoplasty, a surgical procedure that can improve the shape, position or proportion of the ear.
What is Otoplasty?
Otoplasty can correct defects in the structure of the ear that are present at birth and become apparent with development. It can also treat misshapen ears caused by injury.
The human ear is made of thin skin and cartilage intricately folded and shaped to give the ear its characteristic appearance. Ear malformations occur in the womb, when problems happen in the growth, folding and shaping of the ear. These malformations come in many shapes and forms.
Ear surgery helps correct these malformations and create a more natural shape, providing balance and proportion to the ears and face. Even the correction of minor ear deformities can have powerful benefits to a child’s self-esteem and appearance.
Types of Ear Malformations
Many congenital ear malformations are common, and otoplasty can treat the following:
- Overly large ears
- Too small ears
- Prominent ears that protrude too far forward from the head on one or both sides. This happens when the ear folds aren’t as folded, and the cup-shaped part of the ear is very large. Otoplasty can bring the ears closer to the head, normalizing appearance.
- Constricted or cup ear – this happens when the upper rim of the ear is folded over or shortened. Surgeons may borrow cartilage from elsewhere in the body to stabilize the correction.
- Stahl’s ear where the ear has an extra fold
- Absent ears
- Caused by injury or trauma, cauliflower ear results in a buildup of fluid between the ear and the cartilage. When it’s not drained, the collected blood forms a thick cartilage-like scar. Surgeons can remove the scar, sculpting the ear and returning it to its original appearance.
Plastic surgeons can normalize the appearance of these malformations or reconstruct a new ear in cases where the ear is absent.
In addition, while many ear deformities aren’t associated with hearing loss, sometimes hearing loss happens. In this case, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor needs to treat the child’s hearing issues.
Who is a Candidate for Otoplasty?
Good candidates for ear surgery include children and teenagers (and adults) who are:
- Healthy and don’t have untreated chronic ear infections or life-threatening illnesses
- Generally, four-seven years old, when the ear cartilage is stable enough for correction and to tolerate surgery
- Able to follow instructions
- Communicative about their feelings
- Agreeable about surgery with a positive outlook
Can Infants Have Otoplasty?
In the past, otoplasty was the only option for children. Today, there is a different procedure called “ear molding”. Physicians can use EarWell™ on very young babies (within 6 weeks of birth) to correct ear malformations by molding the ear into a better shape.
Ear molding works best when started in the first week of life. It can be completed by one visit with a plastic surgeon with no surgery.
The doctor slips the mold over the baby’s ears, and it can correct 93% of ear problems in just two-three weeks when used shortly after birth.
For children four and older who have protruding or disfigured ears that bother you or them, otoplasty is the best option. Ear surgery offers your child immediate results in the case of protruding ears. You’ll notice the results after the dressings used during the initial phases of healing are removed. Your child’s scars are either hidden behind the ear or within the natural creases of the ear. When more extensive ear surgery and reconstruction are called for, the results appear in stages over time.
If you’re concerned about your child’s ears, your first step is a consultation with a plastic surgeon. Surgery usually waits until a child is at least four years old. In the case of infants, you’ll want to see the physician in the first weeks of life for the non-invasive EarWell procedure.
Both procedures can help heal insecurities and increase a child’s self-esteem, so they can move through life with more confidence. Your plastic surgeon is here to help.
You Deserve Expert Guidance and Exceptional Results.
Plastic surgery involves many choices. The most important is selecting a surgeon you can trust. Expect exceptional results when you have your procedures performed by plastic surgeons who are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and who are members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons like Bruce Ferris, MD, and Amy Sprole, MD, or surgeons who are board-eligible, like Nataliya Biskup, MD. The specially trained doctors have at least six years of surgical training and experience, with a minimum of three years of plastic surgery.