Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)
Otoplasty, or ear reshaping, is a plastic surgery procedure performed at Clinic 360 in Toronto to improve the appearance of a patient’s ears. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, ear reshaping is one of the most common cosmetic surgeries for children, with the majority of patients being between the ages of 4 and 14.
While many adults also elect to have otoplasty, it is especially beneficial for children as the ears are typically fully formed by 4 years of age. Children’s cartilage is also more malleable.
There is no association between risk and age, and it can prevent unnecessary ridicule from their peers growing up. As such, having the procedure done at a young age has psychological benefits.
What Can Ear Surgery Correct?
- Protruding ears (excessive ear cartilage)
- Large or otherwise deformed ear lobes
- Ear tips bending down and forward (“lop ears”)
- Small or creaseless ears (otherwise known as “shell” or “cupped” ears)
- Absence of part or entirety of ear(s) due birth defect or trauma
Complimentary Consultation at Clinic 360
As with any plastic surgery, ear reshaping should be performed at a reputable institution by an experienced surgeon, such as those at Clinic 360 in Toronto. Prior to surgery, the patient should come in for a complimentary consultation where the surgeon will perform a thorough physical examination of the ears. In order to individualize the procedure, the ears will be assessed for whether they have excessive cartilage, malformed cartilage, mal-positioned cartilage, and soft tissue (skin and fat) deformity. Even if only one ear needs “pinning back,” your surgeon may suggest doing this to both ears for the sake of symmetry. Prior to surgery, you should also disclose your (or your child’s) full medical history, any allergies, and all expectations for the otoplasty procedure. This will help avoid unnecessary risks of complications.
About Ear Surgery
Ear reshapings are performed on an outpatient basis, either at a hospital, surgical clinic, or doctor’s office. Depending on the age of the patient, either local or general anaesthetic may be used for the otoplasty procedure. In the case of young children, general anaesthetic (or being “put to sleep”) may be preferable whereas older clients may receive local anaesthetic in conjunction with intravenous sedation. The whole procedure should only take about 2 hours and patients can usually return home on the same day.
Factors that impact which otoplasty technique is chosen include:
- General anatomy of the patient’s ears
- Extent of the ear cartilage; excessive skin in the surrounding area
- Level of deformity in other areas of the ear
How is Otoplasty Performed?
Your surgeon at Clinic 360 will determine a location at the back of the ear to make the incision so that potential scarring is least noticeable. Following the incision, the exposed ear cartilage will be sculpted and repositioned closer to the head for a more natural look. In certain cases, the surgeon may also remove excess cartilage to enhance this natural appearance as well. The last step involves the placement of stitches to help the newly reshaped cartilage maintain its position. These stitches may be removable or non-removable, depending on the individual case.
Another common ear reshaping technique involves removed excess skin and folding the ear cartilage back. No cartilage is removed and non-removable stitches are used to help existing cartilage maintain its position. The incision site is closed with either removable or dissolvable stitches.
Otoplasty Risks & Complications
With an experienced, reputable facial plastic surgeon, such as those at Clinic 360, risks associated with Otoplasty are minimal. However, as with any cosmetic surgery, there are certain complications that potentially could arise. The most common risks for Otoplasty include:
- Infection of the skin and cartilage
- Formation of blood clots in the ear
- Loosening of sutures
- Asymmetrical results
- Ears too close to the head
The loosening of sutures is particularly common with patients who are children due to the nature of their playtime activities. As with any cosmetic procedure, many ear reshaping complications can be avoided by being completely honest with your surgeon at Clinic 360 during your complimentary consultation. At this time, they will go over all risks in further detail with you as well. You should carefully follow your doctor’s instructions, both prior to and after your otoplasty surgery, as this will help reduce your chance of complications.
Overall, it takes about 6 weeks to fully recover from ear reshaping surgery. Immediately following otoplasty, the head will be wrapped in a thick bandage in order to maintain the ears’ new position and promote healing. Although cumbersome, patients can return for a follow-up appointment with their surgeon at Clinic 360 a few days following surgery to have their bandages replaced with lighter alternatives.
Children are advised to stay home from school for at least a week following otoplasty in order to avoid any strenuous or boisterous activities. Their activities should be monitored for at least 3 weeks following surgery in order to avoid play that could disrupt healing. By contrast, adults and older children can generally return to normal activity within 3 days of surgery. During otoplasty recovery, patients may experience:
- Temporary discomfort and numbness
- Unusual sensations
These are normal symptoms and your surgeon at Clinic 360 will give you post-care instructions on how to best address and avoid them.
Cost & Financing
As a general estimate, otoplasty surgery (ear reshaping) at Clinic 360 in Toronto will cost upwards of $4,000. Factors that may influence this price include the anticipated complexity of the procedure, the expertise of the surgeon, and how much time it will take to recover. You should discuss with your health insurance provider to see how much money (if any) will be provided for your otoplasty. Otherwise, if you are unable to pay for the procedure in its entirety up front, financing and payment plans are available.