FAQ

Otoplasty (Ear Surgery) in New York

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an otoplasty?

An otoplasty is a procedure to improve the aesthetic appearance of the ears. This is often performed for prominent ear deformities. Depending on the type of deformity there are a multitude of techniques that can be used to improve their appearance. This can include scoring the cartilage, resecting portions of the cartilage, and employing various suture techniques.

What is a cup or lop ear?

A cup ear or lop ear occurs as the result of the superior portion of the ear folding downward. This is often due to the superior crus of the ear fold not being formed. The ear can appear flattened or hooded with a tight skin envelope covering the upper pole as well. Techniques to contour the lop ear and recreate the superior crus fold include using sutures placed internally to correct this deformity, as well as using local flaps to add skin or open the skin appearance on the folded or hooded segment. In newborns, molding techniques can be employed. This is usually best performed within the first five to seven days of birth.

What is a Stahl’s ear?

Stahl’s ear is sometimes called a “Spock” ear. This is when the ear appears to have a third helical crus pushing the ear up and giving it a pointy appearance in its upper pole. If this is noted within the first one to two weeks of birth, molding techniques can be used to improve the appearance. If seen later on, it is best to wait until the child is five to six, and the cartilage can be treated in many several different ways depending upon the deformity. This can include excising the cartilage, rotating the cartilage, folding the cartilage, and possibly using permanent sutures to bend the cartilage into position.

What is a constricted ear?

A constricted ear is the general term used to describe a cup or lop ear. This is a tight skin envelope. Treatment depends upon the severity of the deformity. Various techniques include cartilage molding and suturing to correct most deformities. Often various skin flaps will be needed to provide more skin to the constricted ear so that it can expand completely.

My child has prominent ears. How do you fix them?

Ears in general are asymmetric. There is always one that is larger and usually one that is higher than the other. Prominent ears can be due to several different ear deformities. The helical crus may not be well defined and scoring the cartilage, folding them, and suturing them can improve the shape and contour. Sometimes the conchal-scaphal angle is too obtuse and needs to be corrected. This is often treated with various suture techniques. In addition, the conchal bowl can be excessive in height. This can be treated with shortening as well. Each individual can have a different problem or a combination of the deformities described.

When can otoplasty surgery be performed?

Otoplasty surgery can be performed when the ear fully forms and the cartilage is mature enough to be treated surgically. This is often when a child reaches the age of five or six. If the deformity is noted when the child is a newborn, often molding techniques can be used to correct most defects.

What is the recovery from an otoplasty like?

Otoplasty surgery usually takes about one to two hours to complete. The surgery is performed as an outpatient and patients will often go home with a head dressing on. The dressing is usually removed within a week. Drains are sometimes used. Sutures usually are removed within one to two weeks. Patients will often be told to wear a head band for a few weeks at night to protect the ears. Aerobic activity can usually be restarted within three to four weeks after surgery and heavy lifting and exertion can be started within six to eight weeks.

My child has prominent ears and wants this corrected. How old does he/she have to be?

The ear usually becomes 85% of its adult size by the time the child is five or six years old. In addition, the ear cartilage is usually mature enough to tolerate surgical manipulation at this time.

Where are the incisions for otoplasty placed?

The incisions are either placed in the fold behind the ear or sometimes in the crease along the rim of the ear. Restoration of a natural appearing ear can be performed by bending the cartilage and securing the cartilage with non-absorbable sutures.

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