In this section
surgery, or otoplasty, is usually done to set prominent ears back closer to the
head or to reduce the size of large ears.
Most surgeons recommend that parents stay alert to their child’s feelings about protruding ears; don’t insist on the surgery until your child wants the change. Children who feel uncomfortable about their ears and want the surgery are generally more cooperative during the process and happier with the outcome.
the most part, the operation is done on children between the ages of 5 and
14, as ears are almost fully grown by age 5. At the Royal Children's Hospital we do not allow referrals under age 5.
you’re considering ear surgery for your child, this information
will give you a basic understanding of the procedure-when it can help, how it’s
performed, and what results you can expect. It can’t answer all of your
questions, since a lot depends on your child's individual circumstances. Please be sure
to ask your surgeon if there is anything you don’t understand about the
patients are thrilled with the results of ear surgery.
But keep in mind, the goal is improvement, not perfection. Don’t expect both
ears to match perfectly-perfect symmetry is both unlikely and unnatural in
ears. If you’ve discussed the procedure and your expectations with your
surgeon before the operation, chances are, you’ll be pleased with the
ear surgery is performed by a qualified, experienced surgeon, complications are
infrequent and usually minor. Nevertheless, as with any operation, there are
risks associated with surgery and specific complications associated with this
procedure. A small percentage of patients may develop a blood clot on the ear.
It may dissolve naturally or can be drawn out with a needle.
patients develop an infection in the cartilage, which can cause scar tissue to
form. Such infections are usually treated with antibiotics; rarely, surgery may
be required to drain the infected area. Cartilage has memory and rarely
recurrence of the deformity can occur.
the initial meeting, your surgeon will evaluate your child’s condition, and
recommend the most effective technique. Your surgeon will also give you
specific instructions on how to prepare your child for surgery if required.
surgery is usually performed as a day procedure. Occasionally, your surgeon may
recommend that the procedure be done as an inpatient procedure, in which case
you can plan on your child staying overnight in the hospital. One adult may stay with your child overnight.
surgeons recommend general anaesthesia, so your child will sleep through the
protruding ears, there are a variety of other ear problems that can be helped
with surgery. These include: “lop ear,” when the tip seems to fold down and
forward; “cupped ear,” which is usually a very small ear; and “shell ear,” when
the curve in the outer rim, as well as the natural folds and creases, are
missing. Surgery can also improve large or stretched earlobes, or lobes with
large creases and wrinkles. Surgeons can even build new ears for those who were
born without them or who lost them through injury.
however, the correction can leave a scar that’s worse than the original
problem. Ask your surgeon about the effectiveness of surgery for your child's specific
surgery usually takes about 1 – 1 1/2 hours, although complicated procedures
may take longer. The technique will depend on the problem.
one of the more common techniques, the surgeon makes an incision in the back of
the ear to expose the ear cartilage. He or she will then sculpt the cartilage
and bend it back toward the head. Non-removable stitches may be used to help
maintain the new shape. Occasionally, the surgeon will remove a larger piece of
cartilage to provide a more natural-looking fold when the surgery is complete.
technique involves a similar incision in the back of the ear. Skin is removed
and stitches are used to fold the cartilage back on itself to reshape the ear
without removing cartilage. In most cases, ear surgery will leave a faint scar
in the back of the ear that will fade with time. Even when only one ear appears
to protrude, surgery is usually performed on both ears for a better balance.
are usually up and around within a few hours of surgery. It is rare to stay in
hospital overnight for this type of surgery.
patient’s head will be wrapped in a bulky bandage immediately following surgery
to promote the best moulding and healing. The ears may throb or ache a little
for a few days, but this can be relieved by medication.
a week, the bulky bandages will be removed. Occasionally, your surgeon will
suggest wearing a headband, full time immediately following removal of the bandages, and then at night for a further period of time.
will usually dissolve in about a week.
activity in which the ear might be bent should be avoided for a month or so.
Children can go back to school after seven days or so, if they’re careful about
playground activity. You may want to ask your child’s teacher to keep an eye on
your child for a few weeks.