Patients that are good candidates for ear reshaping or the otoplasty procedure have prominent ears that bend forward and down. The procedure of pinning the ears back require intravenous sedation and local anesthesia (local auricular block) with combined skin excision along posterior ear and scoring of the cartilage with non-absorbable mattress pull back sutures.
You and your surgeon would discuss whether you are a good candidate for ear reshaping, or otoplasty. Otoplasty will not alter hearing ability. What is important for successful otoplasty is that the ears be in proportion to the size and shape of the face and head.
Several important factors that you will discuss with your surgeon when deciding if this procedure is right for you are:
- Skin type
- Ethnic background
- Individual healing rates
Ear reshaping can be done for adults as well as for children. With adults, it is important to know that the ear is fully developed, and will not remold after surgery as easily as the softer cartilage that children have.
If you are considering ear reshaping for your child, it is important that you discuss this procedure and your child’s overall health with your pediatrician. Timing is always an important consideration with ear reshaping for children. Having the procedure at a young age is best because the cartilage is very pliable and reshapes more easily. Also, a young child will experience psychological benefits from this cosmetic improvement in his or her face.
Children with protruding ears are, unfortunately, often exposed to substantial psychological pressure, such as being teased at school or in kindergarten. Low self-esteem, general lack of self-confidence, and social isolation are among the reasons why parents of affected children or affected adults decide for otoplasty.
In the light of these problems, it is recommended to perform otoplasty in children suffering from protruding ears when they are between 5-6 years of age, prior to the start of schooling. However, despite of the convincing arguments in favour of otoplasty, it should be kept in mind at the time of assessment that protruding ears not necessarily result in the affected patients experiencing psychosocial problems.
It has to be considered that children aged 5- 6 years can already provide information about their psychological strain or possible problems with other children associated with their protruding ears. So it is not surprising that often the parents of the affected children wish otoplasty to be performed, while the children themselves deny having problems because of their ear deformities. Consequently, the indication for otoplasty should always be discussed together with the parents and the child to avoid later problems or misunderstandings at an early stage.