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What Can I Expect after Otoplasty?

By Marlene Garcia
Updated May 17, 2024
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Swelling and bruising describe common symptoms after otoplasty surgery that usually resolve within a few days. Discomfort or pain in the ears might also occur, but is usually relieved with mild pain medication. After otoplasty surgery, patients must keep their heads wrapped for at least a week to keep the ears in place until they heal. They will sleep with a headband to prevent the ears from folding during the night.

After about a week, most otoplasty patients resume normal activities and return to work. Children should be watched closely after otoplasty surgery so they do not engage in rough play that could loosen sutures and allow the ears to return to their previous shape. Plastic surgeons advise against using blow dryers after otoplasty during the initial recovery period, along with anything that exposes the ears to extreme hot or cold. Complete recovery usually takes six weeks.

Complications from these procedures are rare, with infections of the skin or cartilage describing most common complaints. If scar tissue forms from infection, it might undo the results of surgery. Clots could form in the ear, but they might go away on their own or be removed via a needle. Sometimes when an unskilled surgeon performs otoplasty, overcorrection might occur, making the ears appear too close to the head. The contour or symmetry of the ears might also appear off if an inexperienced doctor errs.

Otoplasty surgery can reduce the appearance of abnormally large ears that stick out and cause embarrassment. Patients with oddly shaped ears, or asymmetrical ears, might seek cosmetic surgery to correct these defects. Some people undergo otoplasty to correct birth defects or injuries that damage the ear. After otoplasty surgery, patients might enjoy improved self-esteem and confidence because the ears represent such a prominent facial feature.

The surgeon typically makes a cut in a natural fold behind the ear, which leaves a slight scar. He or she might remove excess cartilage or skin that causes the ears to protrude. In some cases, the surgeon simply reshapes the cartilage and stitches it into the desired shape to form a more natural-looking ear. If the ears stick out, they might be pinned back closer to the head.

A child’s ears are usually fully grown by the age of five or six. Some parents choose surgery to address name-calling and teasing from other children. In adults, the cartilage is usually firmer and not as pliable, making the surgery more difficult. Otoplasty does not affect hearing and generally takes about two hours to perform.

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Discussion Comments
By anon339175 — On Jun 21, 2013

Otoplasty creates a dramatic result – avoid having your child go through emotional torment in these delicate formative years.

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