Ear deformities can be either congenital (patients are born with the deformity) or acquired (ie through trauma). Most often, patients come to us with a complaint of prominent ears. Having large ears can lead to teasing and self-consciousness. Otoplasty is the procedure performed to reduce large ears or to set protruding ears back closer to the head.
In children with prominent ears, it is typically recommended that correction be performed prior to school age (4-6 years old). This lessens any psychosocial trauma that may be associated with the cosmetic deformity but the child is also old enough such that his/her ears are nearly adult size. Surgery can also be performed in adults.
Your surgeon should carefully examine the ears to identify the specific deformity causing the prominent ears. Sometimes this is related to the lack of an ear fold. Other times, the bowl of the ear is more prominent, causing the ears to jut out. The type of surgery offered should be individualized to address the deformity. In general, however, the procedure involves reforming the cartilages that shape the ear. Incisions are typically made behind the ear such that there is no visible scarring. Sutures are also placed in the cartilage to help it maintain its new position. Sometimes, some cartilage needs to also be removed.
Your hearing should not be affected by this procedure as the middle and inner ear (where hearing is conducted) is not touched.
Otoplasty is usually an outpatient procedure. Normal activity can be resumed after a few weeks although the ears need to be protected for several months.