Otoplasty (ear-pinning surgery)
I have been working alongside Dr Taylor and recently assisted him in several of these surgeries. They are amazing and so clever with how it all works. I thought it would be interesting to write a blog post about it and if any of you are bothered by ears that stick out further than you are comfortable with this is a neat surgery that works well and you might be interested in it.
Dr Greg Taylor provides both kids and adults with expert, compassionate care for protruding or oversized ears.
Ears that are irregularly shaped generally become apparent in a child by age four – which is also around the same time they begin school or kindergarten.
Why it’s done
Having ears not in balance and proportion with the rest of the face can lead to a lot of nasty comments from other kids, “Dumbo Ears” being the most common. A child facing harsh comments like this could potentially develop self-esteem issues and feel overly conscious about their appearance.
Ear surgery, medically known as an otoplasty, helps correct the defects in ear structure that can lead to this kind of taunting.
If your child is bothered by protruding or misshapen ears, an otoplasty around age 5 is safe provided ear cartilage is stable enough for correction. Adults can also safely undergo ear-pinning surgery too but there is a slightly higher chance of complication. Many adults in fact undergo the procedure because of dissatisfaction with a previous ear surgery when they were younger.
Besides correcting ear structure issues that are essentially present since birth, ear-pinning surgery also:
- Corrects misshapen ears caused by injury
- Helps address oversized ears, or a medical condition known as macrotia
For whatever reason the procedure is done, ear-pinning surgery creates more naturally shaped ears – drastically improving the ears’ balance and proportion with the face.
Even minor corrections to ear structure can yield tremendous benefits to appearance and self-esteem. But one important thing you need to consider –an otoplasty or any other surgical procedure should only be done to satisfy your own goals, not those of someone else.
Otoplasty poses various risks, including:
- While scars are permanent, they’ll likely be hidden behind your ears or within the creases of your ears.
- Asymmetry in ear placement. This could occur as a result of changes during the healing process. Also, surgery might not successfully correct pre-existing asymmetry.
- Changes in skin sensation. During otoplasty, the repositioning of your ears can temporarily affect skin sensation in the area. Rarely, changes are permanent.
- Problems with stitches. Stitches used to secure the ear’s new shape might work their way to the surface of the skin and need to be removed. This can cause inflammation of the affected skin. As a result, you might need additional surgery.
- Otoplasty can create unnatural contours that make ears appear to be pinned back.
Like any other type of major surgery, otoplasty poses a risk of bleeding, infection and an adverse reaction to anesthesia. It’s also possible to have an allergic reaction to the surgical tape or other materials used during or after the procedure.
How you prepare
Otoplasty, or ear pinning surgery, differs from many other plastic surgery procedures in that it is commonly performed on children as well as adults. Regardless of the age of the patient, though, ear pinning surgery has been shown to be quite effective in giving the ears a less prominent, more pleasing shape.
Your first step in preparing for ear pinning surgery for either yourself or your child is to research the procedure and determine whether it is the right choice. When you’ve completed your research, it is time to schedule a consultation with a plastic surgeon.
What to Expect During Your Otoplasty Consultation with Dr Greg Taylor
If you are seeking ear pinning surgery for yourself as an adult, age will not be a factor. Many adults undergo otoplasty for the first time, while others wish to correct unintended results from a childhood surgery or to repair the ear’s shape following an injury.
If you are a parent seeking ear pinning surgery for your child, however, be aware that this procedure is not performed on children under the age of 5 years old, and that the younger your child, the more important it is that you have your evaluation done by a qualified plastic surgeon. When otoplasty is performed on children whose cartilage has yet to fully stabilize, the procedure may not be as successful.
Once it is determined that the patient (you or your child) is a good candidate for ear pinning surgery, Dr Taylor will want to know about current medications and any chronic medical conditions that exist.
For adult patients, you will be asked if you are a smoker. It’s important not to lie to your ear surgeon about this fact. Nicotine acts as a blood thinner, which means if you undergo ear pinning surgery as a smoker, you risk complications with the healing process that could affect the final results of your otoplasty. Dr Taylor will, of course, encourage you to quit smoking as all medical professionals do, but the most important part is that you agree to avoid cigarettes for a specific amount of time leading up to and following your otoplasty procedure.
After taking your medical history, Dr Taylor will require testing both to verify that you are healthy enough for surgery and confirm the underlying physiology of the ears that are being pinned. Be ready to undergo blood tests as well as x-rays and other imaging.
Ear Pinning Surgery Preparation
Dr Taylor will give you specific instructions for care leading up to your otoplasty, but there are a number of other concerns you should make sure to address as you prepare for your procedure.
- Dr Taylor will discuss whether your otoplasty needs to be performed as an inpatient or outpatient.
- If your procedure is performed on an outpatient basis, arrange for someone to drive you home afterward and stay with you for the first night following surgery.
- Discuss the type of anesthesia being used. Dr Taylor will provide you with instructions related to how the anesthesia will affect you and how long it will stay in your system.
You will receive plenty of literature regarding your procedure to help you prepare, but don’t forget some other, more practical preparations:
- Wear a button-down shirt the day of your procedure so that you may dress to return home without touching your ears.
- Get any pain medication prescriptions filled prior to your ear pinning surgery, as you will need them as soon as your anesthesia wears off and will not want to drive to the pharmacy at that time. There is a pharmacy near dr Taylor and you can also get your prescription filled as you leave the surgery.
- Talk to Dr Taylor about gauze and other supplies you will need to keep on hand to care for your incision sites following your surgery. Most of this will be arranged by the nurse for you.
- If you don’t want to have to discuss your ear pinning surgery with others, plan to stay home for about a week following your procedure, until the swelling and bruising has disappeared completely. If your child is the one undergoing otoplasty, try to plan the procedure during an extended school break or make sure to keep him or her home long enough for recovery to be completed, to avoid classmates teasing him/her.
When you are ready to contact Dr Taylor
Dr Taylor is happy to answer any questions you have about ear pinning surgery, and dedicated to making sure that otoplasty is a safe experience with satisfying results for you or your child.
If you have questions not addressed here, write them down to discuss when you are ready to schedule an appointment with a Dr Taylor
During the procedure
As you prepare for your otoplasty, Dr Taylor will provide you with very specific instructions. It is important that you pay close attention to these instructions, and be prepared to make whatever temporary lifestyle changes are necessary to ensure a positive outcome to your otoplasty procedure.
The day of your otoplasty
Ear pinning surgery is frequently performed with the aid of general anesthesia, but may take place with only a local anesthetic and mild sedative in some cases. Dr Taylor and your anesthesiologist will discuss your options with you in the weeks leading up to your procedure.
Regardless of the method of sedation used, you will still be unable to drive following your otoplasty, so be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home afterward and, if possible, to stay with you the first night following your surgery.
It’s also helpful to prepare to recover in a recliner chair or find some other method of elevating your head during this time. Not only do you want to prevent the possibility of rolling over on your ears while sleeping, you also want to help the swelling go down faster – something elevation promotes. Be sure to set up your recovery area prior to your procedure so that you can immediately begin resting upon returning home.
After the procedure
Dr Taylor will give you a headband-like compression garment to wear over your ears for the first 24 hours. These bandages help hold the ears in their new shape or position. Your ears will be quite swollen and large during this time. After the initial 24-hour period, you will be able to remove the garment for short times, but you will still need to keep it over your ears as much as possible. Someone will need to drive you home and if possible, stay the night.
The First 24 hours
Your ears will be swollen and bruised, and there will be some discomfort after the anesthesia wears off. Be sure to take any pain medications prescribed before the anesthesia wears off completely. To help alleviate the swelling, you will need to relax in your designated recovery recliner or use several comfortable pillows to keep you uplifted while sleeping or resting. Keep your head elevated so that swelling is alleviated as much as possible. It is important not to sleep on your side as this could damage your new ears.
48 to 72 Hours Later
After a few days, you can remove the bandages but will need to wear a lighter bandage for another few days. Approximately one week following the procedure, all bandages can be removed. You will then be directed to wear a soft headband that covers your ears in order to hold them in their proper position. Depending on your needs, the doctor may indicate that the headband only be worn at night, which is when the ears are more likely to lose their new shape.
After the first 72 hours, recovery passes at different rates for different patients. Your ears will still be swollen, but you may return to work or school if you feel up to it, although patients with hairstyles that effectively cover the ears are usually most comfortable doing so.
Avoid using shampoo for the first week, and keep your ears away from extreme heat for a couple of weeks as well – which means no blow drying. This is especially important while your ears are still bandaged.
Dr Taylor will also instruct you to sleep in your headband for up to eight weeks following your otoplasty. This garment keeps your ears in the proper position so that they do not fold while you sleep. Additionally, exercise and other strenuous activities should be avoided for up to ten weeks after ear pinning surgery.
One Week Later
Most of the swelling and bruising are gone at this point and you may resume normal activities. Adults are able to return to work at this point without fear of gossipy co-workers. Children are able to return to school. You can also return to using hair shampoo.
Two Weeks Later
Continue to avoid rigorous activity or any activities that could impact the ears until completely healed – this is particularly important to remember for young children as they should not play roughly or overexert themselves.
Three Months Later
Swelling will have completely subsided. Your new ears will have settled into their new shape and position. You can return to exercising and other strenuous activity.
Within the first week the swelling will continue to subside, and should be minimal enough that you feel comfortable being seen after seven days, or possibly before. However, some mild swelling can remain for up to three months.
On rare occasions you will eventually need to return for otoplasty corrections or adjustments, but the vast majority of those undergoing ear pinning surgery achieve lifetime results.
Important Tips for Ear Surgery Recovery
It is important to know that the appearance of the ears will change from what they look like immediately after the surgery to the time they are completely healed. For example, the ears usually appear swollen or bruised right after the procedure, which will subside after some time. Don’t be alarmed if the ears aren’t instantly what you expected—once all the swelling has gone down, you will be able to appreciate your new ears to the fullest.
Here’s a quick list of tips to help ensure a speedy recovery from otoplasty:
- Keep the head cool during the recovery period, especially while bandages are being worn – avoid extreme heat and refrain from using hot blow dryers.
- Keep head elevated to minimize swelling – take any prescribed pain medication as directed to alleviate any discomfort.
- Apply any ointment directed by the doctor to the incision area so that scars heal properly and are not visible.
- Have patience—allow your body to rest and recover from the surgery.
- Have realistic expectations – understand that the appearance of the ears will gradually improve over time.
- Contact your doctor right away if you experience any complications.
Although recovering from ear surgery certainly varies from patient to patient, most people find the process to be relatively easy and worth the slight discomfort and inconvenience.
If you are interested in this surgery and want a consultation with Dr Greg Taylor you can find his website here: Dr Greg Taylor