Ear surgery, also known as otoplasty, is often performed on patients with prominent ears or ears which appear to protrude too far from the head. Other reasons for ear surgery include overly large or small ears, ears that are disproportionate to the head or are oddly placed, and ears that have been damaged by injury. Dr. Charles Hsu, renowned Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, performs ear surgery on children with fully formed ears, as well as adults to give the patient a more attractive ear size and shape.
Best Candidates for Ear Surgery
Candidates for ear surgery must have ears that have reached their full size, which is usually around 6 years old. Individuals who consider ear surgery include:
Those born with overly large or small ears
Those with ears disproportionate to your head or oddly placed
Those with ears that stick out prominently
Those who have suffered an injury that has negatively impacted the shape or positioning of the ears
During the consultation, Dr. Hsu will first ask about any events affecting the appearance of the ear, such as whether it was present from birth, or whether a previous injury had changed the appearance. He will examine both ears for symmetry and also determine exactly what anatomic factors are responsible for the appearance. If he determines the patient is a good candidate for the procedure, Dr. Hsu will then explain the next steps in going forth with the procedure. Dr. Hsu will work with the patient to decide all the necessary details that will ultimately give the best results.
Dr. Hsu will perform ear surgery with the patient under general anesthesia for approximately 2-3 hours. Depending on the patient’s anatomy and desired changes, Dr. Hsu will either make an incision hidden inside or behind the ear. He may also remove excess cartilage or soft tissue if that is what is causing the ear to protrude too much. If the ear lacks normal folds, Dr. Hsu will recreate them by shaping the cartilage with permanent sutures or scoring the cartilage in order to contour it. Sometimes, he uses a combination of techniques to achieve the desired result. This requires some judgment at the time of surgery to determine which maneuvers are appropriate for the end goal.
Recovery and Post-Op
After the surgery, Dr. Hsu will place special dressings around the ears to keep the ears well protected during the first week and cover them with surgical earmuffs. The special earmuffs will prevent any accidental movement or bumping so the newly created ear fold can heal in place. It is very important that the patient keep their head elevated at all times during the recovery period. During the recovery period, walking will encourage with healing and minimize the risk of blood clots. Dr. Hsu will usually remove stitches during the first follow-up appointment, which is usually 1 week after the surgery. Swelling and bruising will peak about 48 hours after surgery but will gradually decrease in about 2 weeks. Most patients return to work after 2 weeks, but many return even sooner.
From Dr. Hsu
“There are a variety of reasons why patients come to plastic surgeons for correction of ear issues. Although I do perform ear surgery for correction of all sorts of issues, in my practice the most common requests I see are: earlobe reduction for aging, droopy earlobes; keloid excision for earlobe keloids after piercings, and closure of earlobe gauge holes. I also do get some requests for ear pinning, but mostly these are in teenagers who did not have them pinned back when they were children. Each of these procedures has its own individual set of considerations that I discuss with patients when they come to see me. I personally enjoy the earlobe reduction and earlobe keloid cases most. The earlobe reductions give very nice, predictable results, and the earlobe keloids are fun for me because of their challenge.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Ear Surgery in Adults vs. Children?
In children, the cartilage is soft enough that splints can be used for contouring during surgery. This is typically done under general anesthesia in a surgicenter. Adults, however, have harder cartilage, and the procedure must be carried out by removing or repositioning cartilage after making a small incision in the ear.
What are the different options for Ear Surgery?
Every patient will work with Dr. Hsu to determine the shape, size, and surface texturing for their ears. Also, Dr. Hsu and the patient will decide on an incision site based on the patient’s needs and where the ears will be in relation to the face.
What can I expect in my final results?
Approximately one week after the procedure, the patient will return to our clinic and Dr. Hsu may remove stitches at this time, if needed. The time frame for recovery is unique for every patient, but patients can expect to return to work and any light activity after 2 weeks. In 2-3 weeks, the final results will become visible, though small changes to the ears can occur for up to 9-12 months.