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Otoplasty

Corrective Plastic Surgery for Protruding Ears (‘Bat Ears’)

Otoplasty is a surgical procedure to correct protruding ears in both children and adults by reshaping the cartilage of the ear in order to allow the ear to lie closer to the side of the head.

Protruding Ears can develop on one or both sides due to developmental abnormalities in the anatomy of the ear cartilage. The condition is often found in varying degrees amongst other members of the same family.

Otoplasty is a very rewarding procedure for both the surgeon and the patient as it dramatically improves self-esteem.  Moreover, when done in children before they commence school it can avoid the teasing and bullying that this condition often attracts from their peers. Continual teasing by other children can be devastating to a child and can lead to self-consciousness, body image problems and more serious psychological disorders – so early treatment is strongly recommended.

Although Otoplasty can be performed in teenagers and adults, it is best done in early childhood, ideally at around 5 or 6 years of age because:

  • The cartilage in children is softer and more easily moulded.
  • It avoids the risk of teasing and taunting from other children when they go to school – a not-uncommon problem in children around this age.

 

At your initial consultation, your surgeon first needs to determine the specific abnormality in the ear cartilage that is causing the ear(s) to protrude. This is usually due to either, or both, of the following developmental abnormalities:

  • an under-developed or absent anti-helical fold that normally allows the ear to sit close to the side of the head
  • Excessive growth of the cartilage on the back of the ear which then pushes the ear outwards.

Identifying the exact cause of the ear protrusion is essential as this will determine the surgical technique required.

In an Otoplasty, an incision is made on the back of the ear and the ear cartilage is exposed.  Then, according to the cartilage abnormality present, the cartilage is cut to allow the ear to sit closer to the side of the head. The skin incision is closed with sutures that either dissolve or are removed 7-10 days later. The resulting scar behind the ear will become very inconspicuous over time.

Making the decision to have an Otoplasty

Otoplasty is performed by our highly experienced, Australian-trained, female Plastic Surgeon, Dr Sawjin Tew who has helped hundreds of patients over the years with her extensive experience and sense of artistry.  A decision to have an Otoplasty should only be made after a detailed and informative discussion with our Plastic Surgeon in order that you are well informed on all aspects of the surgery, including the benefits and risks,  before making the decision to proceed.

Recovery after Otoplasty

Stay in hospital is not required.  Patients are able to go home the same day and recuperate at home. However, you must not go home alone. You must be accompanied by a responsible adult who can be with you for the first 24 hours after you return home.

Post-operative pain is usually mild only and can be relieved with simple analgesics such as Panadol or Paracetamol.

Initially, your ear(s) will be covered with a bulky compression bandage that needs to stay in place for around 7 days.

Sutures are usually removed when the bandage comes off.

When your surgeon removes the bandage, the ears may look bruised, swollen and uneven. Don’t be alarmed as these appearances are normal and will settle with time.

After your compression bandage is removed, your surgeon may recommend that you wear a tennis type headband at nights only for a further 2-3 weeks to support the re-shaped ear cartilage.

Female patients can hide the post-operative ear appearances with long hair and return to work in as little as 48 hours. Generally, patients should refrain from strenuous exercise for 2 weeks.

Adult patients can usually go back to work after around 5 days but most prefer to wait for the bandage to be removed. Likewise, children can return to school when the bandage is removed but need to exercise extra care during playground time.

Females should avoid wearing their earrings until all swelling has subsided as inserting them can be difficult as well as pose a risk of infection.

Otoplasty Surgery attracts a Medicare rebate.

Otoplasty is eligible for a Medicare Rebate.  If you also have Private Hospital Insurance, a variable portion of the Hospital Fees can also be claimed depending on your Fund and level of Cover.

For more information on Otoplasty, please contact our Clinic on 02 9267 3322.

 

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