Ear Surgery (Otoplasty)

Have you found yourself purposely growing out your hair so you can cover your ears? Do you use hats to pin your ears back so they don’t protrude? If you find yourself feeling self-conscious about your ears to the point where your self-image is affected, then perhaps it is time you considered cosmetic eat surgery.


What is Ear Surgery?


Ear surgery- or as it is technically known, otoplasty- is a plastic surgery that corrects or reforms the shape, size and/or angle of the ear. Otoplasty in Beverly Hills is most commonly used for pinning back ears that look like “Dumbo” ears- in reference to their size and shape- hence its particular common association with ear surgery that pins the ear back, closer to the head.


Ear Surgery is typically performed on children who are older than 5 or 6 years of age, just before they enter school to bring proportion and a balance to the children’s faces that have been imbalanced by disproportionate ears. This is because ears tend to frame and provide structure for the face- if it is too prominent, it can become a magnet for teasing and name-calling, drastically altering the child’s self-confidence and self-esteem. In fact, ears have become such a source for self-esteem and fitting-in issues that otoplasty was the most popular plastic surgery sought by teenagers during 2009, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.


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Am I a good candidate for Ear Surgery?


There are actually two categories of ear surgeries: cosmetic ear surgeries and reconstructive ear surgeries. Cosmetic ear surgery in Los Angeles is the type of ear surgery that is purely used to bring about a more aesthetically-pleasing look of the ears. Cosmetic ear surgery can be used to correct:

  • Protruding, “Dumbo”-like ears
  • Ears that are larger than average
  • Ears that are an abnormal shape

If you have ears that fit any of the above descriptions, are in good health, and are at least older than 5 years of age, then you are a good candidate for cosmetic ear surgery. It is recommended that children wait until they are at least 5 years of age to ensure that their ears are pretty much fully-developed. Because cosmetic ear surgery is elective by nature, it is rarely covered by health insurance.


However, if an ear disfigurement is the result of a genetic or congenital defect, or is the consequence of an accident, then any subsequent ear surgery in Beverly Hills can be considered a reconstructive ear surgery, and therefore may be covered by insurance.  A common type of congenital ear disfigurement that is usually corrected by reconstructive ear surgery is macrotia, which is the condition of having ears that are not simply larger-than-average, but overly large ears.


What to Expect during Ear Surgery?

Because each patient will have different desires and needs when it comes to reshaping and reforming their ears, techniques and incisions during each ear surgery procedure will likely vary.


But almost all ear surgery procedures will probably utilize a vertical incision to the back of the ear, near the crease where the ear meets the head, in order to reduce any visible scarring from the ear surgery procedure. This vertical incision is highly useful during ear pinning while correcting ears that are protruding outwards: the cosmetic surgeon will reshape the cartilage the cartilage within the ear through this incision and place permanent sutures that will permanently pin the ears back towards the head.


There are often cases in which an incision to the front of the ear is necessary to bring about the results that the patient desires. For patients who have ears that are larger than average, an incision to the front of the ear is sometimes needed in order to bring about a smaller overall look to the ears. When these incisions are made to the front of the ear, they are more often than not made to within its folds in order to minimize any potential visible scarring.


Ear Surgery Recovery


The recovery period for ear surgery is known to be relatively rapid and efficient. Immediately following the ear surgery procedure, the cosmetic surgeon will place soft dressings or bandages, which will come off after a few days, on the incision cites and around the ears. Almost all patients will be able to return back to their homes the same day as their procedures. The cosmetic surgeon will prescribe antibiotics for the patient in order to reduce the risk of any post-op infections from forming and pain medications for any post-op discomfort and pain.


There will be some bruising and swelling of the ears during the first week of recovery so it is crucial to keep the head in an elevated position during this time to minimize any bruising and swelling. It is recommended that patients wear a headband to hold the ears in place for the first couple of weeks after the ear surgery procedure. Because the patient should not put any pressure on their ears for the first couple of weeks during recovery, they cannot sleep on their sides, and must sleep on their backs.


The majority of patients will feel well enough to return to work and to resume their normal, daily activities within 7-10 days following their ear surgery procedures, although patients should refrain from any heavy exercise or lifting for the first two weeks.


There are generally no visible scars from otoplasty in Los Angeles since the incisions tend to be made in folds and creases, where scarring can be kept to a minimum. It is important to follow any specific post-op instructions given by your cosmetic surgeon in order to bring about a speedy and efficient recovery with minimal scarring.

Dr. Vishal Kapoor MD is a Board Certified plastic surgeon who performs facial and body procedures in
Beverly Hills & Los Angeles, California in his fully accredited cosmetic surgery center.
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