Can Ear Size Be Reshaped or Reduced?
Some people are self-conscious about the size of their ears or feel that they stick out and give the face disproportional appearance. Ear reshaping, which is also called huntersville otoplasty, allows patients to "pin back," reshape or reduce the overall size of the ears to give them a more symmetrical and proportional appearance.
People can have ear reshaping performed at any age, however, it is typically performed on children who are between the ages of 4 to 14. Patients who have the below concerns with the size or shape of their ears may be a good candidate for ear reshaping:
- Large ears
- Small ears
- Ears that stick out
- Ears with deformities
- Large, stretched or abnormal earlobes
Children who are not born with ears or people who lose their ears may opt to have artificial ears surgically attached. For patients who have only one protruding ear, the surgeon often recommends reshaping both ears to ensure optimal symmetry.
Patients who are considering ear reshaping will first have a consultation with a facial plastic surgeon. During this initial visit, be prepared to discuss your medical history, including any prior surgery, current or past health issues and any medications, vitamins or supplements you are taking. By evaluating your ears and their relationship to other features on your face, the surgeon will determine the optimal technique to achieve your desired results.
For parents who are considering ear reshaping surgery for their children, be sure to make your child's health, needs and wants the top priority. If the child does not want to undergo surgery, do not force it. Children who are uncomfortable with their ears and desire the surgery are far more cooperative and compliant with the surgeon’s directions.
Ear reshaping is typically performed as an outpatient procedure at a surgical suite, hospital or outpatient surgical center. For patients who are admitted to the hospital, you will most likely only stay a night or two at most.
Patients will be given local or general anesthesia to ensure you remain comfortable during the procedure. Local anesthesia is used to numb the area around the ear. This is combined with a sedative to ensure you stay awake, but relaxed during the surgery. General anesthesia makes you stay asleep during the procedure and is often used for children. Based on the extent of the surgery and technique being used, ear reshaping normally takes around two to three hours.
The surgeon starts by making an incision behind the ear where it naturally attaches to the head. The cartilage is then sculpted and bent back toward the head into the desired position. Stitches which are non-removable may be used to aid in maintaining the new shape of the ear. In some cases, the surgeon removes a larger piece of cartilage to give the ear a more natural-looking fold.
Another technique which is used involves a similar incision located in the back of the ear. The skin is removed and stitches are used to fold the cartilage back on itself and reshape the ear without the need to remove cartilage. For most patients, there will be a thin scar behind the ear. However, it will barely be visible.
Ear reshaping is a common procedure which is safe and the risks are rare. With any surgery, however, there are possible risks and the potential for complications. It is possible for blood clot to develop. It may dissolve on its own or need to be removed using a needle. While it is quite rare, the patient may have an infection in the cartilage. This is usually treated with an antibiotic or surgery if it is severe.