The prospect of going through life with protruding ears is not a pleasant one for children or their parents. Children are often the most likely candidates for otoplasty (cosmetic ear surgery), though Dr. Wheeler would consider anyone whose ears have reached full growth – five or six years or older.
Otoplasty is a cosmetic procedure to alter the shape of the ears to the size and shape of the head. It does not improve or detract from hearing ability.
A very important consideration, which Dr. Wheeler will discuss in depth with parents of children or adolescents, is the preparation of the child for the surgical procedure – his or her positive outlook, realistic expectations and apprehension about surgery in general. Adults considering otoplasty should be aware that their developed cartilage will not mold as easily as a child’s.
Specific surgical techniques
Dr. Wheeler will conduct an in-depth consultation with everyone involved in the otoplasty process – parents, children or just the adults who desire the procedure. He will most likely recommend that, even if only one ear requires the “pinning back” surgery, both ears should be treated to retain facial symmetry.
Choice of anesthetic may be different for children and adults. Dr. Wheeler will often recommend children have general anesthesia, while adults may only require local anesthesia.
In most surgeries, Dr. Wheeler makes his incisions just behind the ear in the natural skin folds where the ear joins the head. He then removes the necessary amount of skin and cartilage to achieve the desired shape before pinning the cartilage back with permanent sutures. In some procedures, no skin or cartilage will need to be removed.
After the surgery
Dr. Wheeler will discuss with patients and their parents what to expect during the recovery process. Quite often, the patient’s sleep positions will have to be altered or monitored to avoid discomfort.
If you want additional information about facelifts, visit the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons website.