What is ear surgery or otoplasty?

Otoplasty is a generic term that describes surgical correction of an ear deformity. shutterstock_240061474
The deformity can be from multiple causes such as genetics, trauma, or from cancer.  Most often otoplasty is performed as a prominent ear surgery.  Of note, the first otoplasty was performed by Rochester, NY  physician Edward Talbot Ely in 1881.  After correcting a prominent ear deformity in a child he is recorded as humbly stating “I do not know whether this is a new operation for the deformity in question or not, but, if allowed to judge from a single case, I can highly recommend it.”

What does otoplasty involve?

Otoplasty surgery is highly individualized as the types of deformities vary.  The surgery could range from something as simple as a small tissue excision and closure at one extreme (such as with torn earlobes), or could involve harvesting rib cartilage and carving an entire new ear at the other.  Most often otoplasty is for prominent ears or cupped ears.  The surgery involves excising skin and cartilage from the main cup of the ear, known as the concha, followed by suturing the ear to either augment its folds or bring it closer to the side of the head.  Surgery can also be performed for a constricted, or small ear.

Who is a good candidate for otoplasty?

Any patient who has an abnormally prominent or shaped ear.  The most likely and best candidates are children between the ages of 5-6 years of age.  This is the optimal time for 2 reasons: first, the ear has reached 90% of its adult size at this time.  The operated ear will not grow after surgery.  Secondly, and as importantly, at ages 5-6 yrs old children become more self aware and this also coincides with the age a child might begin to be teased or ridiculed at school.

Who is a poor candidate for otoplasty?

Children under the age of 5 years old, as their ear is neither large enough or strong enough for surgery.

Will I, or my child, need to be admitted to the hospital for an otoplasty?

No, otoplasty is an outpatient procedure for which you will go home the same day.

What is the typical ear surgery recovery?

This varies on the type of surgery performed, but return to school or work is possible within a couple days.  A headband will be worn for a full month thereafter. Driving is possible within 48 hours when one is off of  narcotics.

How much does ear surgery cost?

The US average cost for ear surgery (otoplasty) is between $5-6000. Dr. Graham’s cosmetic ear surgery pricing can be found here.

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