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Otoplasty in Virginia Beach

At Associates in Plastic Surgery, we administer the latest in otoplasty surgery to normalize the appearance of both children and adult ears with a simple outpatient procedure.

Table of Contents

What is an Otoplasty?

Otoplasty, also known as ear surgery or ear reshaping surgery, is a cosmetic surgical procedure aimed at correcting prominent or misshapen ears. Otoplasty can address a variety of ear deformities, including protruding ears, overly large ears, asymmetrical ears, or ears with congenital defects. The goal of otoplasty is to improve the appearance of the ears and enhance facial symmetry.
During an otoplasty procedure, the surgeon may employ various techniques to reshape the cartilage and reposition the ears closer to the head. The specific surgical approach depends on the patient’s unique ear anatomy and aesthetic goals. Common techniques used in otoplasty include:
  1. Ear Pinning: Ear pinning, or setback otoplasty, is the most common otoplasty technique used to correct protruding ears. The surgeon makes an incision behind the ear to access the ear cartilage. The cartilage is then reshaped or folded back to reduce ear projection, and sutures are used to hold the ear in its new position closer to the head.
  2. Ear Reshaping: In cases where the ears are misshapen or asymmetrical, the surgeon may use techniques to reshape the ear cartilage and improve its appearance. This may involve removing excess cartilage, sculpting the cartilage to achieve symmetry, or reconstructing missing or malformed structures.
  3. Ear Reduction: For patients with overly large ears (macrotia), the surgeon may perform ear reduction surgery to reduce the size of the ear. This may involve removing excess skin and cartilage to create a more proportionate ear size.
  4. Earlobe Repair: Otoplasty can also address earlobe deformities, such as torn or stretched earlobes. Earlobe repair surgery involves reshaping the earlobe and suturing any defects to restore a natural appearance.
Otoplasty is typically performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia with sedation or general anesthesia, depending on the patient’s age and the extent of the surgery. Recovery time varies depending on the specific techniques used but generally involves some swelling, bruising, and discomfort in the ear area, which typically subsides within a few weeks.
Overall, otoplasty can have a significant impact on a person’s self-confidence and quality of life by addressing concerns about the appearance of the ears. It’s essential to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in otoplasty to determine the most suitable treatment plan based on individual needs and goals.

Am I a Candidate? An Ideal Candidate for an Otoplasty:

  • Has ears that are prominent or protrude.
  • Has fully developed ears (at least 6 years old)
  • Is in generally good health
  • Is not a smoker

What Happens During an Otoplasty?

During an otoplasty procedure, the specific surgical techniques employed may vary depending on the patient’s unique ear anatomy and aesthetic goals. However, here is an overview of what typically happens during an otoplasty:
  1. Anesthesia: Otoplasty can be performed under local anesthesia with sedation or general anesthesia, depending on the patient’s age, the extent of the procedure, and the surgeon’s preference. The anesthesia choice will be discussed with the patient before the surgery.
  2. Incision Placement: The surgeon makes incisions in discreet locations to access the ear cartilage. The precise location and length of the incisions depend on the specific techniques used and the patient’s unique anatomy. Incisions are typically made behind the ear to minimize visible scarring.
  3. Cartilage Reshaping: Once the incisions are made, the surgeon carefully reshapes the ear cartilage to achieve the desired aesthetic outcome. Techniques may include folding or scoring the cartilage, removing excess cartilage, or sculpting the cartilage to improve symmetry and contour.
  4. Ear Positioning: If the goal of the surgery is to correct protruding ears, the surgeon may use techniques to reposition the ears closer to the head. Sutures are used to hold the ear in its new position and maintain the desired shape and projection.
  5. Earlobe Corrections (if necessary): In cases where the earlobes are elongated, stretched, or misshapen, the surgeon may also perform corrections to the earlobes as part of the otoplasty procedure. This may involve reshaping the earlobes and removing excess tissue to achieve a natural appearance.
  6. Closure: Once the cartilage reshaping and repositioning are complete, the incisions are carefully closed with sutures. The sutures may be placed beneath the skin or on the surface, depending on the surgeon’s technique and preference.
  7. Dressing and Bandaging: After the incisions are closed, the ears are typically covered with dressings or bandages to protect the surgical site and provide support during the initial healing phase. The dressings may remain in place for a few days to a week, depending on the surgeon’s instructions.
  8. Recovery and Follow-Up: After the otoplasty procedure, patients are usually monitored in a recovery area before being discharged home. They will receive instructions on post-operative care, including how to care for the surgical site, manage discomfort, and prevent complications. Follow-up appointments will be scheduled to monitor the healing process and remove any sutures or dressings as needed.
It’s important to note that otoplasty techniques may vary depending on the patient’s individual needs and goals. Patients should consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in otoplasty to determine the most suitable treatment plan based on their unique anatomy and aesthetic objectives.

Recovery/Results: What to Expect After an Otoplasty?

  1. Immediate Post-Operative Period (Day 1-2):
    • After the otoplasty procedure, patients may experience some discomfort, swelling, and bruising around the ears.
    • Pain medication prescribed by the surgeon can help manage any discomfort or pain.
    • The ears may be covered with dressings or bandages to protect the surgical site and provide support.
  2. First Week:
    • Swelling and bruising typically peak within the first few days after the otoplasty procedure and gradually start to subside.
    • Patients may need to wear a supportive headband or bandage around the ears to hold them in the desired position and reduce swelling.
    • It’s essential to avoid activities that could put pressure on the ears or disrupt the healing process during this time.
  3. Second Week:
    • By the end of the second week, most of the swelling and bruising should have improved significantly.
    • Patients may start to feel more comfortable and may be able to return to light activities.
    • Follow-up appointments with the surgeon may be scheduled to monitor the healing progress and remove any sutures or dressings.
  4. Third Week to Fourth Week:
    • Swelling and bruising continue to diminish, and the ears begin to take on a more natural appearance.
    • Patients may still need to wear a supportive headband or bandage at night to protect the ears while sleeping.
    • Some minor swelling or asymmetry may persist, but this should continue to improve over time.
  5. Long-Term Recovery (After One Month):
    • After one month, the majority of swelling and bruising should have resolved, and the final results of the otoplasty procedure become more apparent.
    • The ears should appear more balanced and proportionate, with the desired shape and contour.
    • Patients can usually resume normal activities and may feel more confident about their appearance.
It’s important to note that individual recovery experiences may vary, and the timeline provided above is a general guideline. Factors such as the patient’s age, overall health, and the extent of the otoplasty procedure can influence the recovery process.
Patients should follow all post-operative instructions provided by their surgeon, attend follow-up appointments as scheduled, and contact their surgeon if they have any concerns or questions during their recovery. With proper care and patience, patients can achieve optimal results from their otoplasty procedure and enjoy a more balanced and harmonious appearance.

Maintaining Results

Maintaining the results of an otoplasty procedure requires diligence and care to ensure long-lasting outcomes. Here are some tips for maintaining the results following an otoplasty:
  1. Follow Post-Operative Instructions: Adhere strictly to the post-operative instructions provided by your surgeon. These instructions may include guidelines for activities to avoid, proper wound care, and medication usage. Following these instructions can help promote optimal healing and minimize the risk of complications.
  2. Protect Your Ears: After otoplasty, it’s essential to protect your ears from trauma or injury. Avoid activities that could put pressure on the ears or disrupt the healing process, such as contact sports or rough physical activities. Consider wearing protective headgear if engaging in activities that carry a risk of injury to the ears.
  3. Wear Supportive Headwear: Your surgeon may recommend wearing a supportive headband or bandage around the ears, especially at night, to help maintain the new ear shape and reduce swelling during the initial healing period. Follow your surgeon’s recommendations regarding the duration and frequency of wearing supportive headwear.
  4. Maintain Good Ear Hygiene: Keep the surgical site clean and dry during the initial healing period to prevent infection. Follow your surgeon’s instructions for caring for the surgical site, including any recommended cleaning or dressing changes. Avoid inserting anything into the ears, such as cotton swabs or earbuds, until cleared by your surgeon.
  5. Attend Follow-Up Appointments: Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your surgeon to monitor the healing progress and ensure optimal results. Your surgeon may remove any sutures or dressings, assess the healing of the surgical site, and provide guidance on post-operative care and maintenance.
  6. Avoid Smoking and Alcohol: Smoking can impair healing and increase the risk of complications following otoplasty surgery. Avoid smoking and limit alcohol consumption during the recovery period to promote optimal healing and reduce the risk of complications.
  7. Protect Your Skin from Sun Damage: Sun exposure can cause pigmentation changes and affect the appearance of scars following otoplasty surgery. Protect your ears from sun damage by wearing sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and avoiding prolonged sun exposure. Consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat or protective clothing when outdoors.
  8. Be Patient: It’s important to have realistic expectations and understand that the final results of otoplasty may take some time to fully manifest. Be patient and allow your body to heal properly before assessing the final outcome of the procedure.
  9. Communicate with Your Surgeon: If you have any concerns or questions during the recovery process, don’t hesitate to contact your surgeon. Your surgeon is there to support you throughout the recovery journey and can provide guidance, reassurance, or additional treatment if needed.
By following these tips and maintaining a consistent post-operative care routine, you can help preserve the results of your otoplasty procedure and enjoy a more balanced and aesthetically pleasing appearance of your ears for years to come.

Possible Complications

While otoplasty is generally considered safe when performed by a qualified and experienced surgeon, like any surgical procedure, it carries some risks and potential complications. It’s essential for patients to be aware of these potential complications before undergoing surgery. Here are some possible complications of otoplasty:
  1. Infection: Infections can occur following otoplasty surgery, although they are relatively rare. Signs of infection include increased redness, swelling, warmth, and pain around the surgical site. Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent or treat infections.
  2. Hematoma or Seroma: A hematoma is a collection of blood under the skin, while a seroma is a collection of clear fluid. These fluid collections can develop in the ear area following surgery and may require drainage to prevent complications such as infection or skin necrosis.
  3. Poor Wound Healing: Some patients may experience delayed wound healing or wound breakdown at the incision sites. This can result in visible scars or wound dehiscence, which may require additional treatment or revision surgery to address.
  4. Asymmetry or Irregularities: Achieving perfect symmetry between the two ears is challenging, and subtle differences in ear shape or position may occur. In some cases, further revision surgery may be needed to address noticeable asymmetry or irregularities.
  5. Overcorrection or Undercorrection: Otoplasty aims to correct ear protrusion or other ear deformities, but in some cases, the ears may be overcorrected or undercorrected. This can result in dissatisfaction with the aesthetic outcome and may require revision surgery to achieve the desired results.
  6. Numbness or Altered Sensation: Temporary numbness or altered sensation in the ear area is common after otoplasty surgery, particularly around the incision sites. This usually resolves on its own over time but may persist in some cases.
  7. Keloid or Hypertrophic Scarring: Some individuals may be predisposed to develop keloid or hypertrophic scars, which are raised, thickened scars that may be more noticeable than the surrounding skin. Scar management techniques may be employed to minimize the appearance of scars.
  8. Chondritis: Chondritis is inflammation of the cartilage and can occur as a complication of otoplasty surgery. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in the ear area. Prompt treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications is necessary to prevent complications.
  9. Anesthesia Risks: General anesthesia carries its own set of risks, including allergic reactions, breathing difficulties, and adverse reactions to medications. Your anesthesiologist will discuss these risks with you before the procedure.

It’s essential to discuss the potential risks and complications of otoplasty surgery with your surgeon before undergoing the procedure and to follow all pre-operative and post-operative instructions carefully to minimize the risk of complications. If you experience any unusual symptoms or complications after surgery, be sure to contact your surgeon promptly for evaluation and treatment.

Otoplasty Before & After Photos