1) People make fun of me because my ears stick out. Can you help me?
Although it is typical to see younger patients with this complaint, it is painful to be teased at any age. You might be surprised to know it’s not uncommon for adults come to us each year to address this same complaint. They grow tired of adjusting hairstyles to cover their ears. It is never too late to correct what is referred to in the medical literature as “bat” ears. Otoplasty is a safe, outpatient procedure that allows us to “pin back” and, if indicated, reconstruct or reshape the cartilage so the ears are symmetrical and rest closer to the head.

2) I already had an otoplasty and I’m not happy with the results.
Although there may be many unexpected factors that can affect a final result such as wound healing or compliance with postoperative routines, a good result is also based on the expert knowledge and experience and skill of the doctor. A facial plastic surgeon comfortable with otoplasty weighs all of the following factors:

  • precise baseline measurements of the degree of protrusion
  • size and symmetry of the ears
  • proportion of the ears to the face and head
  • maturity and pliability of the cartilage
  • strategic placement of the otoplasty sutures
  • correct type of suture
  • physical health, age and readiness of the patient.

The surgeon performing a revision otoplasty needs to be very experienced and skilled with the procedure for several reasons – not the least of which is that revision otoplasty is a much more difficult procedure because the original cartilage and original anatomical landmarks have been altered by the initial otoplasty.

3) What’s the best age for my child to have an otoplasty?
There are a couple of factors to consider in determining the best age for your youth. First, ear development nears maturity around five or six years of age. Therefore, that age is an excellent time to have your child evaluated by a facial plastic surgeon. Another important factor is the psychological effect of peer pressure, which routinely starts around ages seven or eight. If the otoplasty is performed prior to the onset of peer pressure yet timed when the cartilage is mature enough to be reshaped, your child is not as adversely affected by the teasing of unknowing classmates. Typically we tell parents to schedule an initial consultation when the child is about age five or six.

4) Will I still look like “me” after surgery? Before and After Photos
Many of our patients report that, upon return to work and routine daily activities, friends and acquaintances make the following remarks: “Gee you look great. Did you change your hairstyle?” or “Have you been on vacation?” Retaining your unique beauty is the sign of a successful procedure. Although the change may be significant to you, it’s not uncommon that friends and family don’t really notice the specific changes.

5) Yes, but I want to dramatically change the appearance of my ears. Can I do that?
This is an excellent question because it leads to evaluating realistic expectations. This question can only be answered on an individual basis. A sign of a good facial plastic surgeon is one who can tell the difference between realistic and unrealistic expectations and one who will be truthful about meeting each patient’s desires. Our biggest referral source is from satisfied patients – ones who have had realistic expectations and were satisfied with results.

6) Will I be awake during surgery?
Using IV sedation (medicine administered through an IV) and a local anesthetic (numbing medication administered in the operating room), patients are asleep during operation. Patients do not hear or feel anything and are comfortable during surgery. Patients wake up very soon after the surgery is completed. Intravenous sedation is a type of anesthesia; therefore all patients must have a responsible adult to stay with them through the night following surgery. Patients may not drive for 24 hours after their procedure and this time may be longer, depending on the procedure.

7) Is it painful?
After any surgical procedure, some discomfort can be expected. All patients are provided with prescriptions for pain medication. Patients sometimes use the prescription medication two to three days after surgery and then switch to Extra Strength Tylenol. It is uncommon for patients to report unmanageable pain after surgery.

8) How long does my surgery take?
The length of surgery depends on several factors including the complexity of each person’s ears. Revision otoplasty can take a little longer because of corrections that need to be made as a result of the initial surgery.

9) Can I drive myself home after surgery?
NO. Because of the effects of anesthesia, patients are not able to drive themselves home after the surgery.

10) Do I go home after surgery?
Most otoplasties are done on an outpatient basis. Because you will go home after receiving sedation, you will need to make arrangements for a responsible adult to drive you home, to stay with you overnight and to drive you to our office for your first postoperative appointment.

11) How long will bruising and swelling last?
Postoperative bruising and swelling begins to resolve at the end of the first week. Full resolution of bruising or swelling may take two to three weeks. However, you may camouflage bruises fairly easily at seven to ten days with concealer stick.

12) When can I go back to work or school?
Most patients take three to four days off work but occasionally a patient returns after one week. After two weeks, any residual bruising and swelling can easily be camouflaged with make-up. Patients who are more concerned with privacy prefer two weeks off work. Children may return to school after three to four days but should remain out of physical education and contact sports for three weeks.

13) When can I “work out?”
Aerobic activities should be avoided for three weeks following surgery. It’s important to avoid bending, lifting or straining during the postoperative period as these activities can increase swelling and delay healing.

14) I really want to do this but I’m nervous. What if I get stressed?
It’s ok to be nervous. (Frankly, we would be nervous if you were taking this step lightly!) One of the best ways to deal with nervousness is to see what other patients have gone through. Take a moment to read our patients’ comments in this Welcome Book. We are interested in having your experience be positive – whether you ever have surgery or not!

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